Game of Thrones to reportedly film “multiple” Season 8 endings to avoid leaks

705 - Dragonstone - Drogon, Jon 1

Earlier today we got the first casting calls for season eight, and the news just keep on coming. According to HBO, drastic measures are being taken to avoid crucial spoilers of the series finale leaking out. Read below the cut for the details, and our speculation.

The Morning Call reports that, in a recent talk at Bethlehem Moravian College, HBO’s programming president Casey Bloys discussed the Game of Thrones series finale in the context of the challenge of writing a great ending for a TV show:

“I know in Game of Thrones, the ending, they’re going to shoot multiple versions so that nobody really know what happens,” Bloys said. “You have to do that on a long show. Because when you’re shooting something, people know. So they’re going to shoot multiple versions so that there’s no real definitive answer until the end.”

This should be taken with a grain of salt. Let’s put it into perspective: to put it plainly, HBO doesn’t have the budget to film multiple finale episodes (or even entire sequences) that will never air. That’s just a tremendous waste of money for very little gain. I don’t doubt the Game of Thrones showrunners may write and film different versions of inexpensive yet key scenes to confuse inside leakers and paparazzi, but that’s about it.

In fact, they’ve done it before. Well, sort of. In a recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Kit Harington claimed that, in response to the “paparazzi following them around” during filming in Spain, they filmed fifteen hours of footage for three completely fake season seven scenes. If true, it would be a real precedent for what Bloys suggested.

But it isn’t really true: they pantomimed a false scene with dragon heads (which we didn’t buy here at Watchers,) without actually filming any of it or spending the necessary time for such a shoot … because, of course, that would be prohibitively expensive.

Unquestionably, they could take this little experiment further for the last season, especially for crucial scenes that the producers really don’t want leaking out. There is no doubt about that. However, beyond that, we probably shouldn’t expect them to go all out and fake any elaborate sequence that requires any real time and budget. Just keeping the cameras rolling and the cast and crew on location costs ridiculous amounts of money, so the expectations for what Bloys is suggesting here shouldn’t be too grandiose.

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    1. Yeah, I doubt there’s much to this. This would really only be useful if they were filming a particular sequence in an observable area and did a few different takes to confuse onlookers, but even that would still narrow the range of things that could happen since you’d know about all the possible endings.

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    2. That’s interesting. I’d imagine they’ll beef up their security and ensure the script stays somewhat sacred considering this is the last season. But given HBO’s track record I think that’s a tall order. Perhaps since this is the last season and the budget will be very generous they’ll actually have the means to shoot fake scenes?

      Given the popularity of the show it’s just unlikely that we won’t know the ending to Thrones by the end of the year. Although I’d love to be proven wrong.

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    3. Is HBO truly that concerned about leaks? They generate hype and discussion and don’t seem to hurt viewership. HBO talks about them a lot, which makes news, which causes more people to pay attention to the show. Fans who are purists about not being spoiled are the ones who seem truly upset and hurt by leaks; I’m skeptical that HBO really cares that much.

      I’ve also long thought that they leaked the first few episodes of Season 5 in order to have an excuse not to send out screeners for the crucial Jon Snow resurrection eps in season 6.

      Then again, maybe I’m just a cynical conspiracy theorist?

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    4. I can definitely see them writing phony scripts if they’re serious and committed, but no, many extra hours and days of shooting phony scenes is out of the question. Everyone involved already mentions how grueling just filming real scenes is without fake stuff being done. Besides, it wasn’t filming leaks so much nor paparazzi shots that ‘ruined’ S7. Those weren’t any different than previous years. Specific scenes and dialogue were being spread around from leaked scripts. As an example, a lot of what was going to happen at Dragonstone was out there before they even started filming.

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    5. They are bullshitting and the real ending will leak anyway.But in the off chance they are not then cool release all the endings afterwards so I can pretend the one where Jon lives and is happy is the real one and never look back lol.

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    6. Making the 8:
      Scrap the fake scenes and put that money towards CGI where Ghost can gloriously tear up shit in battle finally!

      You joke, but I’m pretty sure what you’re suggesting they should do is pretty much what’s happening. There’s no way they’re wasting any significant money on fake scenes when they’re sure to have so many expensive VFX sequences and battles with hundreds of extras filming for months. There’s just no way.

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    7. I was going to add, as others have already alluded to after, that I’m unconvinced the leaks even matter that much.

      The early seasons “leaked” in the form of the books, and the non-reader audience was largely clueless, minus those who frequent online forums and got spoiled by trolls (or casual talk amongst book readers) — and most people don’t hang out in discussion forums. The Lads leaks for Season 7 were pretty much the worst possible scenario for a network facing leaks, short of the actual episodes leaking (which has also happened with GOT on occasion), but they really didn’t travel much. To look at discussion among casual watchers, etc., they were basically unaware that leaks had occurred, no doubt aided by the fact that the mainstream entertainment media has a tacit policy of playing ball with the networks by not overly publicizing stuff like that. And the season got record ratings anyway.

      Moreover, even among the people who did read the Lads leaks, you had not-insignificant numbers of people who did not believe them well past the point where their veracity was pretty obvious; and people who were still paying attention to other fake leaks that contradicted Lads; or speculating about “surprises” that were not in the scripts (which usually amounted to effective rewrites of what the spoilers said to be more in-line with a given fan’s own expectations. Basically, even among people who read any potential leaks, some won’t believe them. There’s enough fake stuff floating around in addition to the real leaks that it creates clutter.

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    8. Fake news. If they don’t film in order, how would anyone know they were filming the ending? I hope George makes a cameo this season, but I know he won’t. He is too busy writing Wildcards.

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    9. Take a fraction of that budget and give us a goddamn scene with the direwolves.

      Even if they did film multiple versions (which they won’t), odds are they’d still leak anyway and the ‘which ending will it be?’ would just be countered with ‘well, we know it’ll be one of x,y,z…’

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    10. If there are going to be multiple scenes filmed for the ending I can promise everyone they will not involve big battle scenes. These will be scenes that will close the show that require minimal if any CGI or special effects. It would not shock me in the least if they have three or four versions of the last 15 minutes of the show.

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    11. It’s obvious that Kit was joking (or, less charitably, lying) about the fake scenes. We have a pretty good idea which scenes the paparazzi snapped while they were filming, and all of those scenes showed up in S7. Can’t blame him for trying, but…

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    12. Shooting fake scenes is dumb, since filming spoilers isnt so much what really spoils people that badly. The only thing detrimental to spoiling the season fit most would be a script leak like we had for S7. Set reports of a big battle or set photos of Jon and Dany filming a scene on a snowy hill aren’t a big deal. However, this past season was hard on the podcasters, writers and youtubers whose job it is to take part in discussing theories and possible plot twists to the season, as well as the fans listening to them and not knowing how genuine they were being abiut what they know or dont know. Even if you are actively avoiding all spoilers, how can you theory craft and discuss while people are emailing, tweeting and writing on messages boards blatantly disguising script leak spoilers as their own personal theories? You can’t. It takes the fun right out of it.

      As just a viewer and one who enjoys the conversations in podcasts and on public forums, the script leaks did take some of the fun out of the season for me. I dont care about set reports/photos and casting spoilers, or even just insider information about certain plots, but knowing EVERYTHING that happens this late in the game in disappointing.

      They really need to go far out of their way to secure the scripts. One way is to listen to Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and physically hand out the scripts in person to the main actors that get copies. No mailing, emailing or sharing from an ftp site. Any digital copies should be stored on drives that aren’t connected to a network.

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    13. Sean C.,

      I don’t think the leaks matter from HBO’s perspective. Season 8 is going to be a monster event no matter what.

      I think it could just suck for fans not seeking out spoilers if they find out one of their favorite characters died outside of the context of watching the show and/ or learn who sits the iron throne or whatever it is at the end.

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    14. Ser Jay,

      Very well put Ser Jay

      As someone who wanted to enjoy and be blown away by the show as it was intended to be enjoyed, I felt I was much less able to engage with the fandom this season.

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    15. Well, there is a history of “evidence” that filming fake scenes is an option that has been taken several times over the years and so, I wouldn’t be surprised if it rings true regarding S8.

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    16. I think that they *should* film different endings… and then put them ALL on HBOGO, and also screen them randomly. In a sort of a “choose your own ending” style. This would be pretty funny.

      Dibs on the one where there’s no Targ kid and Jon dies.

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    17. Has anyone thought of the upcoming possible awesomeness of the opening sequence of season 8 ? I can imagine the westeros map will be shown frozen and snowy and a huge white gash where eastwatch used to be! Also I wonder what regions will feature, we know winterfell, dragonstone (still?) and kings landing, maybe pike since obnoxious euron is possibly bringing the golden company to there? Anyone?

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    18. Anyone wonder if the golden company will be like in the books? Meaning will the be blackfyre followers? Will there be an aegon? Will they fight a trueborn targaryen? If book aegon is who he say he is… why would they fight against a targaryen restoration? Especially since they don’t just care for gold, but care for their fallen titles as well… I hope they won’t just be mindless greedy fighters!

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    19. Didn’t Kit Harington say in a late night talk show interview that phony fake scenes were filmed for season 7?

      Does anyone know if any fake scenes where really filmed for season 7?

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    20. Goldeneye,
      There will be no fake Aegon on the show, they will be just mercenaries fighting for money. Six episodes, remember? That’s as much time to resolve the remaining plot, not introduce anything new.

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    21. firstone,

      No he was trolling lol.Every scene we saw filmed was in the show.There was one bit of kit and Emilia playing around with the dragon props but they weren’t filming.That was funny in a way because that scene did play out in the show.Okay it was in a cliff not a beach but same concept.

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    22. Goldeneye,

      Yes! I was just thinking the same thing. Everything’s getting so streamlined now that I wonder how they’ll even stretch the few locations remaining to the length of the intro. My guess would be: King’s Landing, Dragonstone (even though we won’t conceivably see it again), Pyke, Winterfell, Eastwatch (and that gaping hole), then finally over to Braavos (Golden Company?). And yes, I would expect a snowy overlay. Gonna be so, so epic.

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    23. Personally, knowing what was going to happen this season made me far more excited for it because I knew things were going to happen that I really wanted to see.

      I’d like a leak of season 8 because it might have the same effect, and even if there are things I don’t like, it’ll give me chance to come terms with them.

      I’ve never been that fussed about it.

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    24. That is a total waste of time. Taking into consideration that more than 15 months will go by before season 8 airs from now, the ending will leak no matter what. I would not be surprised if it leaked next summer.

      It is not that big of a deal as most people who read leaks still watch and enjoy the show.

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    25. In a way it’s almost too bad they didn’t have extra real footage for season 7 (besides that which they cut). One mild running criticism I have seen is how S7 seemed more rushed than usual. Did seem each episode except maybe the last needed more plot narrative, even action sequences.

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    26. Yaga,
      Oh, I like it. Yes please to picking the finale of our own choosing 😀 There is a mid-80s film called Clue, based on the Cluedo board game, which had three completely different endings that were shown randomly in the cinema.

      Personally I’d like one with no fantasy elements at all, but apart from the fact I’m in a probably very small minority of fans, I guess that would be a much shorter story and already finished. And of course there’s absolutely no way D&D or GRRM could ever come up with ending everyone likes. Maybe they could crowd source it and just go with the most popular options? 😉

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    27. Jenny:
      They are bullshitting and the real ending will leak anyway.But in the off chance they are not then cool release all the endings afterwards so I can pretend the one where Jon lives and is happy is the real one and never look back lol.

      Hahaha! Yeah, I’m right there with you.

      Firannion:
      So…this year the production team will be split up into Wolf Unit, Dragon Unit and Troll Unit?

      Ha! Let’s hope trolling is less important than actual content.

      Ravyn:
      They’ll just rotate which characters are sitting at the diner table in the last shot.

      Yeah, that’s basically what I was thinking. Endings 1 -4: Jon, Dany, Tyrion, and Sansa on the throne in turn. Ending 5: No throne, but survors gathering around a council table, etc. Those types of scenes could be shot with minimal dialog and time, so if they really film fake endings, I think they would look like this.

      Last season’s leaks, however, were from a script, not from something seen by crew on set. It will be tricky to convincingly write multiple lead ups to those multiple endings that set up different people on the throne (in other words, Jon dies or Dany dies in the fake script when that’s not what happens). That’s a lot of script continuity issues. Would everyone’s scripts contain all the endings? Other shows have shot multiple endings, so it is done. I’m not sure the true ending won’t be obvious, however, to anyone seeking to leak. Or, again, they shoot one ending but have released this so that we don’t trust any leaks we might see.

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    28. Yeah, I doubt there’s as much to this as is being rumored. HBO may be rightly paranoid after such extensive leaks during Season 7, but those leaks were at the script stage. Securing those should be their primary focus. They’ve been dealing with people snapping distant photos of the set forever, and the only ones that have ever truly “spoiled” anything major as far as I know was the shot of Jon in Stark armor filming the Battle of the Bastards (confirming his resurrections, and his plans) and the guy who trekked several miles to Castillo de Zafra to shoot video footage of the Tower of Joy fight from a distance. Otherwise, while websites like this one can compile photos from filming location and piece together certain details, we never have the full story (most viewers, meanwhile, voluntarily avoid such spoilers anyway). Secure the scripts, and HBO should be fine.

      The most that I could see them doing would be filming a few separate versions of relatively cheap scenes, mostly in epilogue-type material (e.g. scenes where different characters sit down on the Iron Throne, assuming that it still exists, or different combinations of characters in group scenes to obscure who survives). They’re not going to waste money filming different versions of large climatic setpieces. That’s money that they should and will be devoting to making the final product look as great as possible.

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    29. Ser Hogwyn,

      That’s awesome news! I expect that in addition to the typical commentary tracks from the cast and the writers, we’ll be treated to some additional tracks from the BTS crew (VFX, Production Design, Make-Up, Costumes) for the big episodes. Those are always fun. I can never get enough of that sort of thing.

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    30. I hope it works. But thanks for reminding me that now that the season is over, time for me to bail on this site.

      I don’t like leaks. I don’t like set photos. I don’t like “OOooh, that actor is there!” I don’t like scouring casting calls. I don’t like scouring Twitter and Instagram.

      I just wanna watch a show. I know the ones who like all this think you guys are doing the Red God’s work, but I’m out.

      I will get back to the Feast of Dragons read-along whenever you go back to that. I still think Book 4 is a mess and Book 5 is a slog, but at least I’m seeing some of what you’re seeing now.

      Peace until 2019. And remember Worf’s rules of Game of Thrones:
      1) Dorne sucks in the books too
      2) George has just a big of a rape fetish and gets a pass
      3) There is no meaningful difference between “Fetch my sword” and “Fetch me a block” and insisting there is one is a self-own.

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    31. Yeah, I don’t think there’s as much to this as Casey Bloys is claiming, though I can hardly blame him for throwing the idea out there. It will get a ton of media coverage, and sewing seeds of doubt that any scenes that leak are legitimate costs HBO nothing, whereas filming multiple additional scenes that would never see the light of day outside of potentially a special complete series Blu-Ray would cost them very real money – money that they should be spending to make the final season as amazing as possible.

      Websties like this one have been tracking filming news for years, but we seldom if ever have the complete picture (the mods obviously know more, but they’re quite good at being discreet and discerning about what to share). The most “damaging” leaks this year were at the script stage (and they were only “damaging” to a minuscule fraction of the audience – most people voluntarily avoid such leaks, and the show achieved record viewership anyway). Focus on securing those, and the problem is mostly solved.

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    32. I have an idea to save some money on CGI effects. have a bunch of midgets (little people) dress up as wights. and have a regular size wolf tear them up, without real injuries of course. although real injuries would add to the realism. just a thought.

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    33. Advice for HBO, since apparently it is staffed by 5-year olds.

      Buy a computer.
      Do NOT, under any circumstance, plug this computer into any other computers. This includes those things called “The Internet” and “The Cloud!”
      Keep the un-aired episodes on this computer. ONLY on this computer!!!!!!

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    34. Cersei’s Brain:
      Ser Jay,

      Or just avoid the leaks – it is possible. I knew about them from the get go but Avoided them for S7. Was not that difficult.

      No one said you couldn’t avoid them. I avoided many of them. We’re talking about avoiding them while still engaging with the fandom, and enjoying it.

      It doesn’t take an extremely insightful person to get a hint that what people are talking about is likely a leaked spoiler rather than a genuine guess or theory.

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    35. KG:
      Advice for HBO, since apparently it is staffed by 5-year olds.

      Buy a computer.
      Do NOT, under any circumstance, plug this computer into any other computers. This includes those things called “The Internet” and “The Cloud!”
      Keep the un-aired episodes on this computer. ONLY on this computer!!!!!!

      To be fair, the early episode leaks aren’t from people hacking HBO. It’s from HBO giving the episodes to their affiliates so that they can air them. The episodes have been leaked from the affiliate networks both by them stupidly “accidentally” airing the episode early and by someone hacking the affiliate.

      The only other episode leak has been from the critic screeners being leaked, which is why HBO no longer gives out season screeners.

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    36. They should film a hundred endings and let the viewer decide which one they prefer to watch. That way there won’t be any whinging, and we know how much the Hound hates whinging.

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    37. As long as they include all the possible endings on the blu-ray edition of season 8, I’m okay with multiple endings.

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    38. Catspaw Assassin:
      They should film a hundred endings and let the viewer decide which one they prefer to watch. That way there won’t be any whinging, and we know how much the Hound hates whinging.

      If they would do that, just take it further and let the viewers tell their own story, like a Telltale game. It would only take them 10 years to film.

      “Does Jon knock on Dany’s door for a late night booty call?”

      Yes/Hell No

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    39. Yaga,

      That which is dead may never die. The dude paid his dues more than anyone in the story. If anyone deserves a non tragic ending is him. But of course that’s not him so he won’t get it.

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    40. Edward,

      Actually, I think taking into account that we got the full season 7 synopses in advance many months before the season premiere, and they got record ratings nonetheless, I think HBO wasting so much money trying to throw fans and leakers off would be pointless… I personally hope the leak we got is the actual season, because it was insanely action packed, there were unpredictable deaths in the most unpredictable ways possible, even downright offensive to the character to be killed in such nonchalant way, but that is what I am hoping, an unexpected end season with unexpected finale… I am a fan but I sure as hell do not want fans controlling creatively the series, who they want to sit on the Iron Throne… I want it to be unpredictable and downright shocking to the core, and for that to remain the topic of conversations for years… And if the leaks are untrue, that last season better come pretty close or even surpass it…

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