Media Press

TV Guide covers Game of Thrones

This week’s issue of the TV Guide magazine (out today) is Game of Thrones themed. An online preview of their coverage of the new season is already available, as are three alternative, collectible covers of this newest double issue. What will it be, the Starks, the Lannisters, or the Queen across the Narrow Sea? Peruse the images and make your choice.

HBO execs are more than happy with the budgeting and what it delivers, by the way:

HBO won’t confirm the reported cost of $50 million for all 10 episodes, but programming president Michael Lombardo says the price tag “is not totally out of line.” (The special-effects budget is on par with Season 2’s but is spread out over the episodes instead of concentrated on one big one, like “Blackwater.”) “This series is a prototype of what you can do with really good planning and smart producers,” Lombardo says. “They make a cost-effective show and deliver incredible production value. We’re competing against huge feature-film budgets to deliver the same experience.”

A behind-the-scenes video from the cover shoot is embedded at the end of the post. Check here for some great B/W character portraits as well.


  • Only 50 million?? I hope they don’t overreach and end making vfx scenes that seem
    outdated and cheap in comparison with cinema movies…

  • Wtf? “Only” 50$ million dollars? I thought we were talking bout something around 90 million for this season! From what I’ve seen of the material so far it looks better than anything else on television including season 2 which led me to believe they had increased the budget

  • In the last promo “all of us” the crowd scene in King’s Landing temple seems to confirm my fears… its quite “cartoonish” Hope they raise the bar (on budget anf vfx) but now it seems that they have limited the budget to that of the first season….

  • Tyrellboy,

    Money resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick, a shadow on the wall. And a very small budget can cast a very large shadow.

  • zaprowsdower:
    Those pictures look great. But who the hell reads TV Guide?

    Quite a few people, actually–it’s got a very decent circulation iirc, though I don’t know the most up-to-date numbers. It’s also one of the magazines that stares you in the face when you’re checking out of a grocer’s, so it’s great exposure for Thrones.

    Catelyn, Jon and Robb of all people together–this makes me giggle! Am betting that that photo was taken when Kit was still in a cast.

  • So they actually lowered the budget for season 3?

    I remember reading in multiple places that season 2 was estimated at between $60-$65 million.

    I hope something is off here, because HBO has been known to do this in the past, and I’m not sure how that bodes for the future seasons to be honest. They’ve done this before. Keep lowering and lowering and lowering because they’re cheap and think, oh well it’s such a successful show people will tune in anyway so why bother spending on it.

    I hope we’re not going down that road here.

  • From the preview:

    But before the episode’s halfway point, Benioff promises, there will be “hunks, harlots and severed heads.” And a giant.

    … and songs and ice and fire …

    10 days.

  • I’m upset they didn’t produce a fourth cover featuring the Stark kids: Arya, Bran and Sansa.

  • direhound,

    Yeah, I made reference to the scene of the great sept… I gives me the impression of too much computer-generated. On relation to the budget: I prefer they rather dont show a building/scene/battle/creature if they are not going to do it well. In the case of the series of Rome, HBO lowered the budget too much in the second season… (and there was no third season!) They cannot take for granted the audience. The need to keep raising the bar…

  • I wouldn’t worry about the budget. I thought I’d heard D &D say they got a budget raise in an interview, and from what we’ve soon everything looks very good.

  • John W:
    I’m upset they didn’t produce a fourth cover featuring the Stark kids: Arya, Bran and Sansa.

    Well, they aren’t really contenders for the throne… Or are they? :o

  • xavier,

    That must be a joke, It looks incredible.

    The 50mil is an estimate by TV guide I presume, we’ve heard many rumors/reports of increased budget. I have a hard time believing the CGI statement here, it definitely looks like they’ve increased it this year. We’ve almost seen more CGI than in season 2 already. :)

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE the black and white individual photos of the cast!
    So much better than the official postes of the cast. Too bad TVGuide did not take photos of the entire cast since these look s great!!

  • Nick_Scryer:

    That must be a joke, It looks incredible.

    The 50mil is an estimate by TV guide I presume, we’ve heard many rumors/reports of increased budget.


    Add to that, that the budget figures we have for the first two seasons are also only estimates. About the only thing we know for sure about the budget, is that the second season got a “15% budget increase”, since D&D stated that themselves last year. Chances are, we´ll never really get the exact figures.

  • Yeah, that number was a non-informed guess/rumour at best. We know that already S2 with he increase for Blackwater was higher than that, closer to 70 million, and this year they got some extra on top of that as well. But obviously HBO won’t comment on the numbers in any detail.

  • John W:
    I’m upset they didn’t produce a fourth cover featuring the Stark kids: Arya, Bran and Sansa.

    I’m more upset (if this is something to be upset about at all) there is no Stannis cover. I get it, he was defeated, but meh. Or heck, a Tyrrell cover would have been possible? Diana Rigg, Natalie Dormer…surely they’ll ring bells in peoples heads n spark interest? Don’t get me wrong, they’re beautiful pictures, but why introduce all those new characters if you keep focussing on the oldies again n again?

  • xavier,

    But since then didn’t they admit they made a mistake and have learned from it? I think it was something about not counting dvd sales. If that’s true i wouldn’t worry too much.

  • I am soooo not concerned about the budget.

    Again: what’s interesting about this article is that it suggests GoT has added 1.3 million new viewers in the last 10 months. Note the “total viewers” number does not have a “HBO wouldn’t confirm” attached to it.

  • Kyrenna,

    Because they don’t make these covers for book nerds. IMO they should just use Emilia and her dragons for all the advertisements because “Khalessi” is really the only character the casual viewers seem to care about.

  • Is my math wrong or D&D’s, because in those panel discussions, GoT was quoted as being filmed in five (5) countries this season. Let’s see N. Ireland, Iceland, Croatia and Morocco, seems to be four to me. I don’t think D&D would get something like that wrong, so could secret filming have taken place in a fifth country w/o media or fan knowledge. If so that would be one of the best kept secrets in filming history.

  • Did anyone notice the balcony behind Richard and Kit on the Belfast set, it is obviously an interior set, with a green screen more than likely placed outside. Could this be a certain balcony with a river far below.

  • tysnow,

    Number 5 would be the United States

    Too many people complaining about the budget and how they THINK it will look. Honestly, who here knows how a budget translates to the screen? Who knows how to utilize resources a budget provides and how directly it relates to show quality? What’s $5 Million here or there? Do we know the difference? No. The trailers have looked fantastic. The show popularity is booming through the roof. Let them make the show and stop whining about the financials.

    PS: I’m an accountant for a very large firm. I happen to know how multi-million dollar budgets work.

  • Virtus:
    Tyrion’s and Jaime’s hair have turned much darker since Season 1…

    I do dislike that a great deal. But what can ya do?

  • Tried to get a hold of the House Stark cover but all of them were already gone at Target. At least at the one I went to, so I’ll have to check out other Targets and bookstores. Guess that says it all Haha. House Stark all the way!

  • The average budget for a TV network show is $20-25 million per season, which would make the 50 million HBO is spending at double that. 50 million is a quote but it is by no means the official number, nor do I think that HBO will ever reveal the actual amount. It is their prerogative to do so.

    “Battlestar Galactica” had a fraction of the budget that GoT has, and still managed to look epic and delivered incredible production values!

    As for whoever said that the budget for “ROME” was decreased in the second season, must have been watching a very different show than I did! First of all the second season of “ROME” contained the battle of Phillipi and was massive for that time, perhaps the largest scale shots and scenes of the entire show! Second of all it expanded the Egypt storyline with new sets and CGI shots that where not present in season one. Octavian’s coronation scene was far larger than Caesar’s in the first season. On top of that the shots of Rome itself, the expanded sets of the neighbourhoods etc. we’re larger than anything present in the first season. The show was shot on the largest studio lot in the world…and mind you this was all done in co -production with the BBC. The first season production budget is rumored to have cost both the BBC and HBO $90-100 million dollars, while the second season is rumored to have been somewhere between $100-120 million! If anything, it was that crazy amount of money spent which killed both “ROME” and “Deadwood” at least in part.

    But at that time, think ,tablets where still in their infancy, no streaming services, plus HBO content was even harder to access, marketing and sales to other international markets was not as smooth, plus HBO DVD’s took forever to come out, and HBO itself missed out on a lot of lucrative licensing deals, in large part because at that time the then HBO administration was pretty short sighted and ignorant of the changes that were afoot. It nearly brought HBO to its knees, but they learned and adapted and they came back starting with miniseries like “Elizabeth I “, “John Adams” and “The Pacific” and series like “True Blood”….

    PS Showtime’s series have generally had lower budgets than HBO shows, yet that didn’t stop “The Tudors” and “The Borgias” looking as magnificent as they did…

  • I have to say, those sleeves and collar on Cersei’s dress are rocking.

    And holy shit, did you guys read the article in the link? The producers have confirmed GIANTS! F*** YEAH!!

  • Every estimate I have seen previously listed season 1 as having a 50-55 million dollar budget and season 2 as having 65-70 million. Kit Harrington has mentioned in interviews that HBO has put more money into the third season than they did for S2. The viewership has risen to 11.6 million total viewers. The DVD/BR sales are setting records. Do you really think HBO would cut the budget? Have you seen all of the commercials on TV? The visuals I have seen in the trailers look better than ever, certainly better than anything else on TV. Quit worrying. This is now HBO’s flagship show.

  • Hee hee hee, Catelyn must be grinding her teeth. Not only forced to pose in a picture with Jon Snow, but to do so in a picture labeled “House Stark.”

  • “HBO won’t confirm the reported cost of $50 million for all 10 episodes, but programming president Michael Lombardo says the price tag “is not totally out of line.”

    This statement is so wishy-washy as to be almost useless. 70 or 80 million could still make 50 million “not totally out of line”.

    Also, most of season 2’s effects budget went into one episode, so it should stretch a lot better here. Which is basically what Lombardo goes on to say :)