Money

Here's how much it costs HBO to produce one episode of 'Game of Thrones'

Jon Snow in "Game of Thrones"
Source: HBO
Jon Snow in "Game of Thrones"

HBO's "Game of Thrones" is one of the most popular shows on television. The recent season seven premiere garnered over 30 million viewers in the U.S. alone.

But all of those epic battle scenes don't come cheap.

Throughout the show's sixth season, a single "Game of Thrones" episode cost around $10 million to produce, according to an exclusive feature in the April 2016 print edition of Entertainment Weekly, as pointed out by Business Insider's Kim Renfro.

That marks a budget increase of around $4 million per episode, up from the approximate $6 million earlier episodes cost, according to E! News.

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister featured in Game of Thrones season six finale.
Source: Courtesy of HBO

Prior to season six, the most expensive "Game of Thrones" episode ever produced was season two's penultimate installment, "Blackwater," which featured an extensive battle scene and larger-than-life props, including a full-sized replica of a 14th century battleship. The episode cost HBO $8 million to produce — and showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff had to push for the last $2 million.

"We had one really intense conference call with the HBO brass," Benioff told GQ. "It was awkward."

"I think we asked for $2.5 million. We got $2 million-something," Weiss added. "That's a lot of money in TV."

Source: HBO

However, HBO understood that increasing the budget was crucial to getting the episode right. "We'd known for about a year that the ninth episode was going to be 'Blackwater,' and a disproportionate amount of our resources were saved for this episode in terms of time and schedule," Benioff said.

It paid off. "Blackwater" became one of the show's most popular episodes and helped catalyze its popularity.

While "Game of Thrones" is certainly an investment for HBO, it's one that's paying off in spades for the network. The show has become a favorite at the Emmys, where it has won a total of 38 awards, including the Best Drama in both 2015 and 2016.

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