It is one of the great cruelties of life that HBO is making us wait until 2019 for the final season of “Game of Thrones.” But at least this latest news from the set proves that the network is investing heavily in turning the eighth and last season of the hit show into an epic television event to be remembered.
In a spoiler-heavy Instagram post — which has since been deleted — assistant director Jonathan Quinlan revealed that the cast and crew had just wrapped a massive, 55-day shoot across three separate locations, all to recreate a single, significant battle that takes place at the end of next season.
Spoiler Alert: Continue reading at your own peril
“The Battle of The Bastards” took 25 days to shoot.HBO
Everyone still here? Okay, let’s get on with it. Quinlan’s Instagram post, which has been preserved on Watchers on the Wall, included a thank you note from the producers praising the hard work of Season 8’s cast and crew.
“When tens of millions of people around the world watch this episode a year from now, they won’t know how hard you worked,” the note read. “They won’t care how tired you were or how tough it was to do your job in sub-freezing temperatures,” it continues, noting the “55 straight nights” and “cold, snow, rain, mud, sheep shit and winds of Magheramorne” that was endured behind the scenes.
Magheramorne, in Northern Ireland, is the location of the northernmost part of Westeros, in particular, Castle Black and The Wall that borders Stark land and everything north of it. This mammoth battle shoot is rumored to have included White Walkers and Free Folk, suggesting that the scene in question will detail the climactic battle between the icy Wights and Jon Snow’s Nights Watch brethren, desperately keeping winter from coming.
Spanning almost two months, this mystery shoot is likely to be the most expensive and most elaborate bit of action filmmaking on television.
It’s more than double the length of the previous longest shoot for a “Game of Thrones” battle scene. (That would be the 25-day sequence to make last season’s “The Battle of The Bastards” episode.) According to Quartzy, a 55-day action shoot may very well be the longest in television history.
And it doesn’t come cheap, either. For “The Battle of The Bastards,” HBO roped in 500 extras, 65 stuntmen and 70 horses, with props and logistics wrangled by 600 crew members working behind the scenes. No wonder each episode in the final season of “Game of Thrones” is rumored to cost around $20 million. Ice fire-breathing dragons and dragonglass swords sure are expensive, aren’t they?
We can’t wait to see all that money up on the screen next year. Trust us, we’re already counting down the days.