As a global sensation, Game of Thrones broke a lot of records when it first arrived on screens over a decade ago. But one of its most intriguing record-breaks involves the classic Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.
By season 8 of Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones cast members, who had been scattered across the Seven Kingdoms for most of the show’s run, were sharing scenes together for the first time, as we geared up for the Battle of Winterfell. The Battle of Winterfell took place during season 8 episode 3, entitled ‘The Long Night’, and featured 82 minutes of straight battle as all of the crucial Game of Thrones characters defended Winterfell against the White Walkers and Night King.
As well as being a climactic moment in Game of Thrones, this episode also broke a 17-year-long record held by Lord of the Rings. If you’ve watched all the Lord of the Rings movies in order, you’d know that The Two Towers involves The Battle of Helm’s Deep: a battle sequence involving some of our favorite Lord of the Rings characters as Sauraman’s Army faces off against the Kingdom of Rohan. In total, the battle clocks up 40 minutes of screentime, and held the record for the longest on-screen battle for nearly two decades.
So, not only did Game of Thrones usurp this record made by the Lord of the Rings, but it also more than doubled the fantasy movie‘s 17-year record. While the Battle of Helm’s Deep was 40 minutes long, the Battle of Winterfell was 82 minutes long. It was also much more brutal and bloody, but that’s Game of Thrones for you. Would you expect anything else from one of the best TV series of all time?
Beating that 17-year record was no mean feat, however. IGN reported how Game of Thrones cast members were called a year in advance and told to prepare for this episode, which took 11 weeks of night shoots and required 750 cast and crew members overall.
“What we have asked the production team and crew to do […] truly has never been done in television or in a movie,” co-executive producer Bryan Cogman told Entertainment Weekly back in 2019.
“This final face-off between the Army of the Dead and the army of the living is completely unprecedented and relentless and a mixture of genres even within the battle. There are sequences built within sequences built within sequences. David and Dan [wrote] an amazing puzzle and Miguel came in and took it apart and put it together again.”
Well, if the Lord of the Rings had to lose to someone, at least it was a worthy opponent. Perhaps, if the Lord of the Rings cast in the new Lord of the Rings movie really put their mind to it, they could steal that record back.