Editorial HBO

Money makes the world go ’round

The evil of producing a medieval fantasy series such as this one is that it is expensive. To make it look good is very expensive. So what kind of budget is Game of Thrones likely to get?

If we look again at Rome as a guide, we see that the budget was massive, $100 million for 12 1-hour episodes. That works out to a little over $8 million per episode. Is HBO willing to invest that much money into Thrones, especially after they canceled Rome mostly due to the large production costs? Probably not. The good news is that part of the reason for Rome’s massive budget was due to them filming in Rome itself, at Cinecittà, one of the most expensive studios in the world. Game of Thrones will be filming in a presumably much cheaper studio in the UK. So they won’t likely need 8 mill per episode.

Let’s look at another historical drama series, Showtime’s The Tudors. The Tudors is shot in Ireland, which is quite possibly where Thrones will film. It has costumes and sets similar to what Thrones would need. According to this article in the Seattle Times, the budget was around $3.5 million per episode. This is a much more reasonable amount and something that HBO is probably shooting for.

Now The Tudors doesn’t have need of many CGI effects or battle scenes. There were no direwolves or dragons in 16th-century England. As such, I believe that Game of Thrones may need a little more per episode than even The Tudors. To get the kind of professional production quality that HBO is known for, I am guessing they will need to budget around $5-6 million per episode. With the BBC already on board monetarily, I suspect that this is entirely possible.


  • I didn’t feel like The Tudors looked that cheap. Certainly it doesn’t have the scope a production like Game of Thrones will hopefully have, but for what it is (a costume drama) it looks pretty good.

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  • The Tudors really doesn’t need as much money to do what they have to do with it. That being said, Season 3 (which I am really enjoying) seems to have a bigger budget than the first two. They’ve also given it a somewhat greater scale with some fairly epic looking crowd scenes (CGI’d, no doubt, but done well).

    AGOT will have to look at least as big budget as Rome did, if not more so. They can get away with a bit less in Season 1 (though the set building cost will be front-loaded there), with one good sized battle and then Whispering Wood mostly being done from Catelyn’s POV via sound only. With the Dothraki we see the aftermath of a big battle, too. But Season 2 will have to be massive to properly accommodate the hugely epic nature of the Siege of King’s Landing. A lot will be CGI, but a lot will count on some big sets, probably. The ships, the chain, the fires…hopefully we’ll even get The Three Whores trebuches.