HBO will spend more money on the final six episodes of Game of Thrones than some film studios spent on movies this past summer.
According to a new report from Variety, for the final season of Game of Thrones, every episode is expected to cost at least $15 million. Season 8 will consist of six episodes, meaning the total production budget of the season will be $90 million.
That’s a pretty substantial amount of money for a network to spend on one season of television, especially one that only lasts six episodes. For comparison, this past summer, Sony spent $60 million on The Dark Tower, Fox spent $97 million on Alien: Covenant, and Warner Bros. spent $100 million on Dunkirk. Plus, $90 million is roughly what New Line Cinema spent on the first Lord of the Rings movie, although adjusting for inflation, The Fellowship of the Ring‘s budget was closer to $130 million.
The cost of $15 million per episode is more than HBO has ever spent on Game of Thrones before. When the show first premiered, it only cost about $6 million per episode, meaning the price of the whole first season was about $60 million for 10 episodes. In recent years, the show has become more expensive at about $10 million per episode, meaning Season 6 cost HBO $100 million. Game of Thrones‘ final season won’t actually come with a higher price tag than previous seasons, then, but the episodes themselves will be the most expensive so far.
Spending over $90 million on one season of television isn’t actually that uncommon. In fact, the final season of Friends reportedly cost $180 million since the cast was all being paid $1 million for every episode. But a show where a single episode costs $15 million is pretty much unheard of. Last year, The Crown was declared the most expensive TV show ever made because every episode of that series cost $13 million. Now Game of Thrones has surpassed that, although The Crown‘s overall season production budget was higher at $130 million because they produced more content.
Part of the reason for the huge budget increase since Season 1 is just because most of the show’s actors have received a raise since then, with the core cast now getting paid $500,000 per episode. But the show has also gradually become more extravagant when it comes to depicting large scale battles on screen. Fans will recall that back in Season 1, the vast majority of the screen time was dedicated to two characters sitting in a room talking, and the show had to edit around battles because they were too expensive to depict. Now, the series routinely devotes entire episodes to massive battle sequences like Season 6’s “The Battle of the Bastards.” If fans had any doubt that HBO would be going all out with the final season, this hefty production budget should put those fears to rest.