This has been a big year for Game of Thrones despite not being on the air. The series spent months filming the most massive battle scene in the show's history, one being billed as "the biggest ever put to the small screen." HBO greenlit the first prequel to begin filming a pilot, while the actors who survived to the final season wrapped filming. The production held a reunion of the entire cast to celebrate the show's finale. But while fans are ecstatic over the idea of a Game Of Thrones reunion special, there's one catch.
The rumors of the reunion special have been floating around for the last couple of months, but HBO refused to comment on whether it was actually happening. As of this week, it's official. There is a reunion special, and it's not just the party, but a full-fledged TV special with Conan O'Brien as the host. (Conan has been the show's go-to late night host when promoting the forthcoming seasons.)
Sean Bean, who was the one who initially spilled the beans about the special, is definitely a part of it, as are those who made it through all eight seasons. There is an assumption most of the rest of the cast participated, or at least as many as could be rounded up, but no one knows exactly who, and HBO declined to give a rundown.
But again, there's a catch.
When HBO has filmed specials for Game of Thrones, it traditionally has used them as part of the marketing run-up to help fans get hyped for the show's return. Thirty-minute and hour-long behind-the-scenes looks have aired nearly every season, from Season 3's introduction of new characters to Season 5's A Day In The Life, showing how complex a single day of filming can be for the series. These specials usually wind up on the Blu-ray version of the series as part of the extra features, along with the commentaries and the History & Lore animations.
But the Game of Thrones reunion special won't be airing on HBO — not in the marketing blitz ahead of the show's premiere — nor will it air after the show concludes. As Entertainment Weekly puts it:
Instead, we’re told the reunion will be featured exclusively on a new Game of Thrones complete series home video box set that will package together seasons 1-8 for the first time.
To be fair, HBO needs a selling point to convince fans they should take their single seasons collected over the last decade to their local DVD/Blu-ray exchange and then go out and pony up for the complete box set when it arrives. Holding back the reunion special, which is an event large enough every hardcore fan will want to see it, is a smart play. Only releasing the special via the full Game of Thrones Seasons 1-8 box set is one way to guarantee fans want to buy it.
Meanwhile, Game of Thrones Season 8 finally has a premiere month and will be turning up on HBO in April of 2019.