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Season 7 of 'Game of Thrones' is delayed

Winter finally has arrived at Game of Thrones, but that means new episodes are further away.

Executive producer David Benioff explained the decision to postpone the seventh-season premiere of the Emmy-winning HBO drama until next summer, from its typical April rollout. The push back in scheduling was announced this week. He says the arrival of the dreaded, multi-year winter long predicted for Westeros requires a shift in production, which usually is taking place by now.

“Winter is here. We’re shooting in places where there are trees. We have to wait until the leaves fall off” to shoot scenes as winter, he said. That means production won’t finish until February, for a season that will have seven episodes, not the usual 10.

Because Thrones' Comic-Con panels take place just weeks after the end of a season, they tend to examine past episodes rather than scoop upcoming ones.

Producers had a little fun with the crowd, however, offering a Season 7 video tease.

Sophie Turner, Conleth HIll, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Nathalie Emmanuel and Iwan Rheon led a contingent from the large cast, but many big names were absent, including Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emilia Clarke andGwendoline Christie.

Fans still appeared to have a good time, saving their biggest cheers for Kristian Nairn, whose beloved Hodor died protecting Bran this season. Many shouted, “Hold the door!,” a reference to how the loving giant constantly repeated his duty to protect Bran — by holding the door — until the words collapsed into Hodor.

Other panelist offered insights into their characters.

Season 7 of 'Game of Thrones' is delayed

Turner talked about the rising power of Sansa Stark after seasons of mistreatment and humiliation: "She has become a leader in her own right."

Turner said Sansa sees Season 6's epic Battle of the Bastards as "a joint effort" between Sansa and half-brother Jon Snow (Kit Harington), whose actual parentage, revealed in the season finale, means they may not be siblings of any kind. "I'm not sure she believes Jon is capable of running Winterfell and the North. She doesn't believe he has the intellect, knowledge and experience she has, and I concur," Turner said. "She knows he has wonderful morals, those Stark morals, and that inevitably he'll make the right decision." Whether that's the best one "is another story.".

Rheon, amiable in real life, tried to explain why his sadistic Ramsay became Thrones'most despised character. "I think the key was when we were discussing the character, he had this kind of joy in everything he does. He's having the time of his life," he said.  Of course, his life is now over, courtesy of his conqueror and former victim, Sansa.

Turner said she was happy that Ramsay was Sansa's first victim. "I feel like it's been building up to this, her first kill, and I'm so glad it was Ramsay."

Rheon's response? "It was an honor to be killed by you."

Emmanuel, who plays Daenerys Targaryen's lieutenant, Missandei, likes the growing number of strong women on Thrones, which has been criticized for its treatment of female characters.

"I feel very proud to play such a strong woman on the show," Emmanuel said. "I hope Missandei continues to support Daenerys, and they continue to be this girl power couple."

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