There are many elements that must converge in order for a TV show to become a success that keeps the audience on their toes. There must be a plot that catches the viewers’ attention, and the actors in charge of bringing the characters of that story to life must be correctly chosen and play their parts to perfection. But that is not enough, as the audiences of TV shows have become increasingly demanding thanks to the great offer of content available on many streaming platforms, raising the bar day by day. That is why a quality production must pay attention to every detail: a correct setting, costumes that suit the perioda talented makeup team, appropriate special effects, an attractive soundtrack and a director who can balance all these elements.
In order to live up to all these requirements, one thing is needed: money. By themselves, TV productions usually cost a lot of money, since the higher the quality, the larger the number of people who will watch and recommend the show. However, throughout the history of TV shows, there have been some that stood out because of their gigantic budget per episode, which has translated into views and fans all over the world. In many cases, an episode has an even bigger budget than a feature film. In fact, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was announced to premiere on Amazon Prime in September 2022, becoming the most expensive series to date. The platform, which bought the rights to the franchise in 2017 for US $ 250 million, allocated US $ 465 million just for the first season, according to The Hollywood Reporter, so high quality is expected in every episode. Here are 8 other most expensive TV shows ever made.
8 Friends – $ 10M Per Episode
1994 saw the arrival of the TV series that would eventually become the ultimate sitcom: Friends. The show, which for ten seasons followed the adventures of Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Joey and Ross, has a tremendous fan base and is still, to this day, attracting viewers who enjoy the episodes on digital platforms in modern times. The show created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman has become, over the course of the seasons, a cultural and television icon. While locations and sets remained almost unaltered throughout the show, something that did change was the salaries of the main characters, particularly in the 10th and final season, who began to make $ 1 million each episoderaising the show’s budget to $ 10 million per episode.
7 ER – $ 13M Per Episode
This TV show, created by Jurassic Park writer Michael Crichton and produced by Warner Bros., was one of the most influential of the 1990s and brought a number of actors to fame, George Clooney being the best known. The series about Chicago’s County General Hospital doctors premiered in 1994 and ended in 2009 with its 15th season. When the series was at its peak of popularity, in 1998, NBC renegotiated with Warner Bros. a budget for ER that had never been seen before, far from the $ 2 million they had been allocating to each episode: $ 13 million per episode! This contract was extended from season four to season nine. Eventually, this amount was renegotiated, and the remaining seasons were carried out with a budget of $ 8 million per episode.
6 The Crown – $ 13M Per Episode
The Crown is a Netflix production created by Peter Morgan that centers around the life of Queen Elizabeth II and the history and events that took place throughout her extensive reign. It was recently announced that Imelda Staunton has been cast to play the queen in the fifth and sixth seasons, a role that was previously performed by Claire Foy in the first and second seasons and Olivia Colman in the following two. This production that blends fiction and real events is extremely expensive to undertake, considering the sets, the costumes worn by the characters, and the cost of recreating historical events using a realistic aesthetic. Each episode has a cost of $ 13 million painstakingly invested, earning the series its excellent reputation.
5 The Morning Show – $ 15M Per Episode
The Morning Show is a program that illustrates the complexity of today’s mainstream media, where major networks and their productions do their best to get the highest ratings. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell, the series follows the free fall of a morning newscast due to a scandal with one of its anchors, and how the rest of the staff struggles to keep the show afloat. The Apple TV + show, which already boasts two seasons and in January 2022 was renewed for a thirdhas a large per-episode budget: $ 15 million, out of which a large part goes to pay the salary of the world-renowned leading actors.
4 Game of Thrones – $ 15M Per Episode
Premiering on HBO in 2011, Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows in recent years. Based on the novel series by George RR Martin, it follows different storylines involving a group of characters from different noble houses who share a common goal of controlling the Iron Throne and ruling the Seven Kingdoms that make up the land. During its earlier seasons, the production had a budget of $ 6 million per episode, which went up as the seasons went on and more and more fans became part of the audience. For the final season, each episode had a budget of $ 15 million, covering not only the main characters’ salaries, who were largely responsible for the show’s success, but also the investment in realistic sets and scenery, a good film crew, costumes, stuntmen and other expenses that made Game of Thrones a great success despite its controversial ending.
3 The Mandalorian – $ 15M Per Episode
The Mandalorian became a global hit in the hands of director Jon Favreau, who is well known for his great contribution to the MCU. With this new TV series, Favreau contributed to broaden the Star Wars universe even further by recounting the story of a Mandalorian warrior set sometime after the fall of the Empire and prior to the emergence of the First Order. This Disney + series was extremely well received by the audience, and a third season of it is expected, although there is still no news regarding the premiere date. A large part of its success was due to its excellent in every episode, its performances, and special effects. In order to achieve this, the production allocated a budget of $ 15 million per episode, which certainly paid off. For The Book of Boba Fettthe spin-off of The Mandalorianthey allocated the same budget per episode, achieving a similar success, although lower than the first series.
2 The Pacific – $ 20M Per Episode
This was a television miniseries produced by HBO and set around World War II. It premiered in March 2010 and was based mainly on the memoirs of two American soldiers: With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge and Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie, in which both narrate their experiences during the battles against the Japanese Empire. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks participated in this project as producers, and spared no budget to recreate the war scenes with outstanding visual effects. As a result, The Pacific ended up having a budget of $ 20 million per episode and earning a very good score on Rotten Tomatoes.
1 Marvel / Disney Shows – $ 25M Per Episode
The undeniable success of the MCU films keeps on rising, bringing in more fans by the day. With the release of Spider-Man: No Way HomeMarvel shattered previous records, grossing over $ 1 billion in worldwide box offices in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. No wonder they decided to jump into producing TV shows to further develop their already successful characters. And when doing so, they spared no expense: for each episode of WandaVision, Loki, The Falcon and the Winter Soldierand Hawkeye $ 25 million were spent, equating with a full season to the cost of bringing an MCU movie to life.
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