- The final season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” which premiered on Sunday, cost $15 million an episode.
- The show’s earlier seasons cost $6 million an episode, though creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss asked HBO for more money for season two’s “Blackwater” battle.
- By season six, the series cost $10 million an episode, but that season’s “Battle of the Bastards” likely cost more.
HBO’s “Game of Thrones” has a hefty price tag compared to the majority of other TV shows, and it’s only gotten bigger with time.
Each episode of the show’s eighth and final season, which debuted on Sunday, cost $15 million, according to Variety, due to its film-like production schedule. The final four episodes are 80 minutes long each, and one battle reportedly took 55 days to shoot.
“Game of Thrones” is by far the most expensive series on television. “Westworld,” another hit HBO series, costs $10 million an episode. Netflix’s high-budget shows like “The Crown” and “Stranger Things” cost $10 million and $8 million, respectively, according to Variety.
But “Game of Thrones,” which is based on author George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” books, had a more conservative budget in its earlier seasons.
The epic fantasy series premiered in 2011, and started out at an estimated $60 million to $70 million a season, according to GQ, which would make each episode’s cost at least $6 million. But for season two’s “Blackwater” battle, creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff “pleaded” for HBO to give them more money.
“We made our case why we needed the battle and they obliged,” Benioff told Entertainment Weekly in 2012. “That allowed us to do a battle. It did not allow us to do the battle from ‘A Clash of Kings’ [book two]. It would be difficult for a $200 million feature to do justice to the battle from the book. We didn’t have a chance; there just wasn’t enough time on the schedule or money in the budget.”
Weiss told GQ in 2012 that HBO gave the show an extra $2 million for “Blackwater.”
“That’s a lot of money in TV,” Weiss said. “It was a big ask for them, and they understood it was really important. Our point was that the entire season was pointing toward this confrontation. To do what’s normally done on television – the Shakespearean model of talking about battles off-screen – would completely kill the season.”
By season six, the show’s price had increased to at least $10 million per episode, according to Entertainment Weekly. But that season’s “Battle of the Bastards” – which needed 600 crew members, 500 extras, 25 stunt people, and 25 days to shoot – likely cost much more than that.