Winter is coming ... on April 17, it turns out, as HBO announced the premiere date for Game of Thrones this afternoon during the Television Critics Association tour.
It's been known for a while that the eagerly anticipated adaptation of George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy epic would bow sometime in April, but this is the first time the cable channel has given a concrete date.
Named for the first novel in Martin's planned seven-book A Song of Ice and Fire saga, Game of Thrones is set primarily on the mythical medieval continent of Westeros, whose seven kingdoms are torn between a dynastic civil war, a threat of invasion from the North and the impending return of the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
Maureen Ryan and the Winter Is Coming fan site have detailed summaries of the 15-minute sneak peek shown to critics during today's presentation. Both were particularly impressed with the depiction of The Wall, the ancient 700-foot-tall fortification, built primarily of ice, that protects the Seven Kingdoms from a threat from the North. "The Wall looks …. awesome," writes one of the Winter Is Coming bloggers. "And real. It looks real."
Check out the 12 new stills, and the official press release, below:
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NEW HBO SERIES "GAME OF THRONES," BASED ON THE BESTSELLING BOOKS BY GEORGE R.R. MARTIN, DEBUTS APRIL 17
In a land where summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime, trouble is brewing. From the scheming south and the savage eastern lands, to the frozen north and the ancient Wall that protects the realm from the darkness beyond, two powerful families are engaged in a deadly cat-and-mouse game for control of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
As betrayal, lust, intrigue and supernatural forces shake the four corners of the Kingdoms, their bloody struggle for the Iron Throne will have unforeseen and far-reaching consequences.
Based on the bestselling fantasy book series "A Song of Ice and Fire," by George R.R. Martin, the new series GAME OF THRONES launches its ten-episode season April 17, exclusively on HBO. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are executive producers and writers of the show, which was shot at the Paint Hall Studio in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as well as at various locations in Northern Ireland and Malta. The production received funding from Northern Ireland Screen and the Malta Film Commission.
GAME OF THRONES follows kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars and noblemen as they vie for power. As the series opens, King Robert Baratheon, who is married to Cersei Lannister of the wealthy and corrupt Lannisters, asks Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark to come south and help run his kingdom after the questionable death of his right-hand man. Meanwhile, there is a threat to the throne from the east by the exiled teenage Princess Daenerys and her brother Viserys, whose family ruled the Kingdoms for many years before their bloody ouster. And there are rumors of strange things happening at the edges of the Kingdoms, north of the Wall, where Jon Snow, Ned's bastard son, goes to be part of the brotherhood of the Night's Watch, which is sworn to protect the Kingdoms.
Series regulars on GAME OF THRONES include (in alphabetical order): Mark Addy as King Robert Baratheon, Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy, Sean Bean as Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Ser Jaime Lannister, Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Michelle Fairley as Lady Catelyn Stark, Aidan Gillen as Petyr Baelish ("Littlefinger"), Jack Gleeson as Prince Joffrey Baratheon, Iain Glen as Ser Jorah Mormont, Kit Harington as Jon Snow, Lena Headey as Queen Cersei Lannister, Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Bran Stark, Harry Lloyd as Viserys Targaryen, Richard Madden as Robb Stark, Rory McCann as Sandor Clegane ("The Hound"), Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark and Maisie Williams as Arya Stark.
Also featured in the ensemble cast are: John Bradley as Samwell Tarly, James Cosmo as Lord Commander Mormont, Charles Dance as Lord Tywin Lannister, Ron Donachie as Ser Rodrik Cassel, Jerome Flynn as Bronn, Conleth Hill as Varys, Jason Momoa as Khal Drogo and Donald Sumpter as Maester Luwin.
GAME OF THRONES is executive produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss; co-executive producers, Carolyn Strauss, Guymon Casady, Vince Gerardis, Ralph Vicinanza and George R.R. Martin; producers, Mark Huffam and Frank Doelger; directors of photography, Marco Pontecorvo, Alik Sakharov and Matt Jensen; production designer, Gemma Jackson; costume designer, Michele Clapton.
Directors include Brian Kirk, Tom McCarthy, Daniel Minahan, Alan Taylor and Tim Van Patten; writers include David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson and George R.R. Martin.