The most expensive TV shows are hardly guaranteed to be the best, as any Game of Thrones fan left crushingly disappointed with the eighth and final season can attest to, even with HBO stumping up a reported $15 million per episode. Apple TV+, meanwhile, are shelling out the same amount for each installment of post-apocalyptic sci-fi See, but you rarely if ever hear anyone singing the praises of the lavish adventure series.
The era of Peak TV is based on quality as opposed to sheer size and spectacle, but as the lines between film and television become increasingly blurred, the studios with the deepest pockets are finding new ways to mount small screen projects on an unprecedented scale. Amazon shelled out a billion dollars for The Lord of the Rings, and if the adaptation runs for eight episodes through each of the planned five seasons, then that’s $25 million a pop, which is roughly the same figure that Marvel Studios are said to be plowing into their exhaustive roster of superhero shows.
Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian, meanwhile, is part of the $15 million per episode club, but there’ve been rumors making the rounds that Disney are planning to up the ante even more for season 3 and beyond, while insider Daniel Richtman has now claimed that Netflix are looking to compete with the Star Wars spinoff by mounting some seriously costly originals of their own.
“They want to compete with Mando with shows on the same level of budget and scale,” he says.
The platform’s most expensive series at the moment is The Crown, which runs up a tab of $13 million per installment, but Stranger Things and The Umbrella Academy surely won’t be too far behind given the massive audiences they pull in, which justifies an increase in budget. It shouldn’t all be about copying what the other team is doing, though. After all, Altered Carbon looked and felt very cinematic, but ended up being canceled because not a lot of people actually watched it.