"Boardwalk Empire" is an HBO series that chronicles gangster life in Atlantic City during the 1920s. Few people are as qualified to bring the violent Prohibition era to the screen as "GoodFellas" and "Casino" director Martin Scorsese, who directed the $18 million feature-length pilot. Why, some asked, would HBO go to such expensive lengths for a new show?
Part of it may have been pure return on equity. "After 'The Sopranos' was finished, a lot of people felt like there was no point in keeping HBO, and they cancelled it," Brill said. She speculated that the network may have hoped that a new gangster series could attract new subscribers, or win back those it had lost when "The Sopranos" ended.