Game of Thrones

Just like winter, a ‘Game of Thrones’ trailer is coming. The only question is when it’ll get here.

HBO recently debuted the first proper promo for the hit series’ eighth and final season, and it’s really more of an abstract teaser (featuring Jon, Sansa, and Arya walk through the Winterfell crypts as the voices of the dead haunt them) than a trailer. This and the odd promotional clip are all we’ve had to whet our appetites for the season to date. With the premiere airing in just under three months, that’s notably less than you’d usually expect to have seen at this point, especially given that the ‘Thrones’ finale is likely to be the television event of 2019. But that may well be the entire point.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, writer-producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss confessed that they sometimes wish they could dispense with trailers altogether. As Benioff explains it, the appeal is essentially that of a return to a time when you didn’t quite know what to expect upon walking into a movie, certainly not in the same way that you do in this day and age, with the entertainment news cycle churning out information at nearly the same rate as political outlets. Think of the underlying sentiment as something akin to a less twee and self-satisfied version of J.J. Abram’s vaunted “mystery box.”

But as tempting as the prospect might be, it’s not the sort of thing any showrunner could do and still expect to remain in that position. Promotion is, after all, part of the job. Though if any should could get away with coasting on its own built in hype like that, it would probably be ‘Game of Thrones’. And even as the duo longed for the ability to just drop the new season into the audience’s lap, Weiss was there to assure fans and journos alike that there will be trailers, explaining that (ironically) it was a trailer that reignited their enthusiasm for trailers:

“Because then we went and saw ‘Ready Player One’ with our kids and they played the ‘Westworld’ trailer and it looked great. And we’re like, “Ah, we should do that.””

So where, then, is the trailer? Why wait until this late in the game? Well, the obvious guess is that they simply don’t need to run one earlier. I mentioned the show’s “built-in hype” earlier. Are you excited for the new season of ‘Game of Thrones’? If you’re reading, the answer is probably “yes.” But would you really be that much more excited if they ran a trailer over, say, Thanksgiving and another this week? Maybe, but you probably wouldn’t be hanging on every word to come out of the production office in quite the same way we all are right now. Put another way, ‘Game of Thrones’ is a big enough name and has a dedicated enough fanbase at this point that HBO really doesn’t need to build awareness of the show or its return. We know it’s coming, and they know that we know. They just have to tell us when it’s coming and we’ll be there.

That also plays into Benioff and Weiss’s preference (no doubt amplified by the very nature of the final season) to only release as much advance footage as is absolutely necessary. With three months to go until the premiere, we may well get a handful of shorter promos and the occasional clip, but it’s entirely possible that there will only be one full-length trailer ahead of the season premiere. And it’s increasingly looking like they’ll wait as long as they can before dropping it.

Game of Thrones’ returns to HBO for its eighth and final season on April 14, 2019.