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Most expensive TV shows of all time
The Lord of the Rings, Rings of Power
The fantasy series based on the works of John R. R. Tolkien is set to debut this autumn. "The Rings of Power" takes audiences thousands of years before the events of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings". Amazon Prime Video plans to spend $465 million to shoot the first season. Given that the season will consist of 8 episodes, the production of each episode will cost more than $58 million. This is an absolute record.
"Stranger Things" season 4 was released in May. At $30 million per episode (nine episodes in total), the fourth season of a highly acclaimed sci-fi show has a total cost of $270 million. Interestingly, this sum is roughly on par with the production budget of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" ($275 million) and exceeds the cost of Leonardo Dicaprio's "The Revenant" ($135 million).
TV shows based on Marvel Comics are streamed on Disney+. "WandaVision", "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier", "Hawkeye", and "Moon Knight," turned out to be the most expensive Marvel TV series. They command an estimated $25 million per episode to produce. When it comes to highly anticipated projects, they are never made on a tight budget. It means that their budget is likely to grow even higher. Reporting on Disney's revenues for the first quarter of 2022, CFO Christine McCarthy noted that Disney plans to increase content production costs by $800 million, to $1 billion, in the next quarter compared to the same period last year.
"The Pacific", a mini-series about the events of World War II, was released 12 years ago. At that time, it was the most expensive TV show. It was comprised of just ten episodes. The entire series cost HBO $200 million. "The Pacific" was well received by critics and won Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries.
The Morning Show, See
Apple TV also spares no expense on high-quality TV shows. For example, it spent a jaw-dropping $300 million to produce two seasons (20 episodes) of "The Morning Show". It stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon in lead roles. For each episode, the actresses received approximately $1.25 million. "See," another Apple TV+ series starring Jason Momoa, was produced at a similar multi-million-dollar budget.
Game of Thrones
The first season of the fantasy drama "Game of Thrones" cost HBO far less than the subsequent seasons - about $6 million per episode. That number soared to $15 million by the show's final season. The prequel "Game of Thrones" called "House of the Dragon" is expected to exceed this record. The production of each episode of the upcoming series is estimated at about $20 million. The premiere of the 10-episode prequel is scheduled for August.
Aired on NBC in 1994, "ER" is one of the American long-running TV series. In 1998, the NBC network was forced to significantly increase the budget up to $13 million per episode to keep the show running. At the time, NBC was about to lose "Seinfeld," and had just lost its AFC football contract to CBS. The medical drama "ER" ended only in 2009 after 15 seasons.
"The Crown", a historical drama television series about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, debuted in the autumn of 2016. Notably, 4 seasons out of 6 have already been released. The premiere of the fifth season is expected in November this year. The first season appears to be one of the most expensive compared to others as it required the most careful study of historical costumes. Each episode cost Netflix $13 million.
"The Mandalorian" is the first live-action series that is part of the "Star Wars" franchise, beginning five years after the events of Return of the Jedi. The Mandalorian premiered in 2019 on Disney+. The TV show helped Disney capture success in the streaming market but it came with a hefty cost. Each episode had a budget of $12.5 million.
Band of Brothers
In 2001, "Brothers in Arms", an American war drama miniseries, was released on HBO. It was co-produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who had previously worked together on the film "Saving Private Ryan". More than $120 million was spent on this TV show with a per-episode cost of $12.5 million. It won Emmy and Golden Globe Awards.
"Friends" is one of the most expensive sitcoms ever made. Friends made its debut on NBC in 1994, quickly attracting a big budget. Six cast members demanded to be paid equally. By the final seasons, each actor earned $1 million per half-hour episode, boosting production costs to 10 million per episode.