'Game of Thrones' Final Season to Debut in First Half of 2019

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HBO’s Casey Bloys also gives an update on the developing ‘Thrones’ spinfs.

The final season  Game Thrones does not yet have an ficial return date, but the timeframe is certainly narrowing. Speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour this week, HBO programming president Casey Bloys revealed that Thrones will return for its final six episodes in the first half 2019. Beyond that, he was tight-lipped about what to expect from the final adventures Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), other than this: "It's pretty great." One certainly hopes.

Even as Game Thrones prepares to bring the dragons in for a landing, HBO is already gearing up for its next flight in the world Westeros. A pilot for a prequel series has been ordered, based on a story created by Jane Goldman and franchise mastermind George R.R. Martin, set thousands years before the events  Game Thrones. It's said to focus on "The Long Night," a period Westeros history in which humans first fought the dreaded White Walkers.

"We're just starting the search for director and] casting director," Bloys said at TCA, who said he hopes the spinf will begin "shooting sometime in the new year. Beyond that, no plans to make other ones."

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The "other ones," for those not keeping score, are the four other reported Game Thrones spinfs that were in various stages development, with several different writers attached — including ideas sprung from the minds Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential) and even Thrones' own veteran producer Bryan Cogman, to name two. According to Bloys, some those projects remain in the works, while others are no longer going forward, though he declined to give more specific details.

In terms the main and thus far only Game Thrones TV series, the HBO drama has some momentum behind it as it eyes its final season, earning 22 Emmy nominations this year, after being ineligible in 2017.

The early 2019 premiere date for the final season all but guarantees Game Thrones will end before Martin is able to release the next book in the A Song Ice and Fire series on which the show is based, the first book which was published in 1996. The sixth entry in the series, The Winds Winter, has been many years in the making, with the most recently published edition having been released in 2011, mere weeks after the first season  Thrones concluded.

Beyond "Winds," Martin has said there will be one additional Ice and Fire book, A Dream Spring. In the fall, Martin will release an in-universe historical fiction novel called Fire and Blood, based on the history the Targaryen kings.

Keep checking THR.com/GameOfThrones for more coverage.

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This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.