Game Of Thrones creates an entire world out of CGI, natural locations, and IKEA. But it turns out that creating Westeros from scratch, never cheap in the first place, is going to be extra expensive in the final season.
Variety, discussing the growing budgets of peak TV, dropped a fairly stunning figure for the final season amid a Netflix executive’s revelation that they think $20 million an hour is a possible future for TV:
“There was a time not too long ago when the suggestion of forking over that much money for 60 minutes of scripted content might have gotten Wells laughed out of the room. But now $20 million seems the logical extension of where Netflix and its many competitors are headed; HBO isn’t that far away with its budget-busting hit “Game of Thrones,” which will see the price of its final episodes run $15 million apiece.”
Yes, $15 million. An episode. That’s up from $6 million from the first season, although, to be fair, the show has grown vastly in scope since then, adding characters, needing more effects, and delivering battles at a much larger scale. Also, come on, just look at Kit Harrington, that is a man who has a lot of hair infrastructure.
Joking aside, this reflects the budgetary realities of a world where Netflix, HBO, and others are in a spendy race to find the next big TV show everybody watches obsessively. Netflix, in particular, is driving up costs because it’s not just buying a TV show to air and draw advertisers. It’s buying a show, a movie, or a special to always stream on Netflix, around the world, until the end of time. Since producers won’t make any money in the myriad ways Hollywood collects a check, that means Netflix has to sweeten the pot. The goal for Netflix isn’t just to make the next Game Of Thrones, it’s to always have it sitting with Netflix and only Netflix, and to have as many must-watch shows as possible so you’ll fork over the ten bucks.
HBO can handle it: they spent lavishly in the first place, which is how they landed Game of Thrones. But the rest of the TV ecosystem? We’ll find out. Nobody’s taking away Netflix’s credit card any time soon.