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‘Game of Thrones’ returns in 2019, HBO confirms for first time

Game of Thrones fans will have to wait until 2019 for the planned final season of the series, a gap of more than a year since the end of Season 7.

HBO said on Thursday that Game of Thrones would return in 2019 for a six-episode final season. It did not specify the exact date.

The series is HBO’s biggest hit ever with some 30 million viewers in the United States alone and an army of devoted fans worldwide.

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The final season of the Emmy Award-winning show is expected to reveal which of the warring families in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros will win the multi-generational struggle for control of the Iron Throne.

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Production on the final season started in October, and filming is expected to last until mid-2018.

HBO’s head of programming, Casey Bloys, has said multiple endings will be filmed to avoid leaks or hacks of how the saga ends.

Game of Thrones actor Kit Harrington has said that the show shot multiple fake scenes to throw off the paparazzi during the production of Season 7, with the fake scenes taking up to five hours each to shoot.

The tactic of filming multiple endings for a television show has been used before. Breaking Bad and The Sopranos filmed alternate endings to preserve mystery.

READ MORE: ‘Game of Thrones’ will film multiple endings for series finale

Last summer, Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss explained that they planned to spend a year and a half crafting the show’s final episodes in an effort to make them as spectacular as possible.

HBO said on Thursday that Benioff and Weiss will also direct the final season.

Bloys previously confirmed that a 2019 date was possible. Since then, Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner said in an interview that she didn’t expect the show to come back until 2019.

READ MORE: HBO hackers reportedly leak ending of ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7

Many Game of Thrones fans took to Twitter to discuss their feelings about the gap year between seasons.

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The seventh season ended last August with an average of more than 30 million U.S. viewers per episode across multiple platforms. Some of its seven episodes were more than an hour long.

The long gap until the final season would give author George R.R. Martin the chance to finish one or two new Game of Thrones books. Last July the author confirmed he was working on them. The television series has already advanced beyond the events of Martin’s five published novels from the series A Song of Ice and Fire.

—With files from Reuters

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