10 TV Show Episodes That Cost a Fortune
Up until just recently movies, on average, were always far more expensive to produce than television shows. This makes a great deal of sense given the risks involved, and the fact that multiple TV show episodes must be made in advance. Which is to say, production companies are cautious of pumping millions into shows before it is known if the show will be well received. Though, as big budget series are markedly more successful, serialised entertainment has seen a massive step up in production value, and likewise, budget.
To get an idea of what it can cost to produce a single episode
of a TV show, we rounded up the most expensive television and streaming shows that have ever been produced.
This Netflix series had a short-lived run before being cancelled, probably due in part to the fact that it cost an astronomical $9 million per episode. The costs were attributed to on-location shooting, and the expense of keeping the large cast on 24 hour a day standby. Netflix will be making other appearances on this list, but they pale in comparison to the enormous budgets of HBO shows.
Rome – Every Episode
Shot in Italy, and with a strong focus on historical accuracy, the HBO drama Rome ran at $10 million per episode. Most of the money went to the creation of extremely detailed props and elaborate sets.
Fringe – Pilot Episode
This popular science fiction series blockbuster had a first episode cost of roughly $10 million due to the locations, cast members, and smatterings of special effects. Later episodes dropped to around $4 million each.
Lost – Pilot Episode
Lost was a hit series that kept viewers entranced, even as it became increasingly more confusing and difficult to follow. The first episode was extremely expensive, with a reported budget of between $10 million and $14 million. The main source of the money black hole was the need to style and transport a real airliner, which served as a central plot point in the narrative. That’s Flight 815, for those not familiar with the show.
ER – Later Episodes
You probably didn’t expect to see ER on this list, but the price tag is related to unusual circumstances. In 1998, George Clooney had become a renowned star and demanded a sizeable bit of cash to stay on board, pushing episode costs up to $13 million at the show’s peak in 1998.
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The Crown – Each Episode
Netflix produced a series about the famed British Queen Elizabeth, called The Crown. Word is that each episode cost roughly $13 million, with the main expenses being the extremely accurate costumes, sets, and sizeable cast. The show has seen major success, which is a relief, given the bank account destroying amount spent.
Game Of Thrones – Final Season
Virtually everyone on earth now knows HBO’s smash hit series Game of Thrones. The last season is going to cost $15 million per episode, and it really need not be explained where the money is going. With on-location filming, the now widely recognised cast, and the impressive number of full-scale battles due to occur, it’s mostly curious that each episode doesn’t cost more.
Boardwalk Empire – Pilot Episode
Martin Scorsese was brought on to direct the first episode of Boardwalk Empire, which more or less says it all. Add to this that an entire real 300-foot long boardwalk was built at a cost of $5 million, and you understand how a single episode of the show cost around $18 million to shoot.
The Pacific – Every Episode
The Pacific is a deeply unsettling series about events that took place in the Pacific War, and given the enormous quality of each episode, including on-location shooting in exotic places, as well as multiple special effects driven battles, $20 million per episode is understandable.
Westworld – Pilot Episode
HBO is at it again with Westworld, and this time they sunk a gobsmacking $25 million into the pilot episode of gloomy yet captivating science fiction show. With impressive CGI, multiple old west sets, and a none too cheap cast, the bill isn’t too surprising.