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Netflix’s new $144 million series managed to shave some pennies off its massive budget by reusing sets from an unsung action-packed gem

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black sails
Image via Starz

As a blockbuster-sized Netflix fantasy, One Piece was never going to come cheap, but even then it still ranks as one of the streaming service’s most expensive original shows ever with a reported $18 million per episode budget ringing up a tab of $144 million across its eight installments.

To be fair, the money is right up there on the screen thanks to some sumptuous practical sets, impeccable production design, and surprisingly consistent CGI, but not everything was built from the ground up. In fact, thanks to the luxury of shooting on South African soundstages that contained a hefty water tank for shooting, showrunner Steven Maeda revealed to IndieWire he was able to reuse and refit sets from an action-packed and sorely underrated gem that’s well on the way to finding cult classic status.

Via Netflix

“They had all these ships from Black Sails we repurposed, and our production design team did a wonderful job. Those ships are three-quarter sized, but they’re still gigantic and need to be rigged correctly and sails hung correctly. Most of what you see when you’re on those ships is the real deal. We needed the expertise of the crew in Cape Town to pull that off.”

Even outside of the soundstages, Black Sails was famed for taking its set pieces out onto the real-life open sea much like One Piece was wont to do on occasion, with the historical epic combining sword-swinging battles and spectacular naval combat with an endearingly tongue-in-cheek irreverence and no shortage of cheese that helped it find an audience over the course of its four seasons and 38 episodes, and it even turned out to be a benefit for Netflix in the long run.

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Scott Campbell

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