10 of the Most Expensive TV Shows Ever Made

Doona Bae stars in in Sense8
Doona Bae stars in in Sense8
Murray Close, Netflix

Since the inception of the medium, television has always been seen as a cheaper yet more marketable alternative to film. But that doesn't mean it’s cheap to produce—not by a long shot. Some of the most beloved series in television history have had massive budgets (and, surprisingly, so have some of the worst).

It was recently announced that Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars show would have a budget of $100 million for the first season alone. While this certainly demonstrates Disney's faith in the project, it also makes the show, which is still in the early stages of pre-production, one of the most expensive series ever produced for television. Here are 10 other series that share that descriptor.

1. GAME OF THRONES

Budget: $15 million per episode


HBO

Come on, you knew HBO's smash fantasy epic was going to top this list. Virtually everything is shot in exotic locations, it costs a lot to make those dragons look realistic, and actors who weren't household names in the show's beginning certainly are now (and command a higher salary because of it). For the series' upcoming final season, each episode is scheduled to cost around a whopping $15 million.

2. THE CROWN

Budget: $13 million per episode

In an effort to keep growing its original programming catalog, Netflix is currently planning to take on an additional $2 billion in debt. But the company isn't likely to fold anytime in the near future, in no small part because of shows like The Crown. The series' dedication to getting history just right (producers paid $35,000 to recreate Queen Elizabeth II's wedding dress for the first episode) doesn't come cheap: all those elaborate period costumes and lavish locations cost about $13 million per episode.

3. ER

Budget: $13 million per episode


Getty Images

There was a time when ER—the NBC medical drama that turned George Clooney into a household name—was an absolute cultural force. (Quentin Tarantino even directed an episode.) The series hit its peak between 1998 and 2003, when NBC seemed happy to essentially hand producers a blank check. Between its massive cast of up-and-coming stars and slightly-above-average production costs, each episode was budgeted at around $13 million.

4. BAND OF BROTHERS

Budget: $12.5 million per episode

It’s probably not surprising to anyone who has ever seen Band of Brothers, HBO’s 2001 miniseries about “Easy Company” of the 101st Airborne Division during World War II, that it was insanely expensive to make. With Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks among its producers, the miniseries was shot on location, had a massive cast, featured period-accurate costumes and sets, and had explosive action sequences—all of which added up to a cost of a cool $12.5 million per episode.

5. THE GET DOWN

Budget: $11 million per episode

Justice Smith in The Get Down
Netflix

Netflix's whole business model is based on its appeal to niche audiences, which can be remarkably successful or an unmitigated disaster. Unfortunately, Baz Luhrmann's passion project The Get Down was the latter. Costing Netflix a reported $120 million for a single season, the show was built on elaborate sets and had to pay out exorbitant fees for the rights to classic R&B and funk songs. It was intended to have a second part, but Netflix canceled it after no immediate return was seen.

6. FRIENDS

Budget: $10 million per episode

By the end of its run, Friends had become a generation-defining show—and its cast knew it. All six of the series’ main stars were making north of $1 million per episode in the final seasons, and while NBC tried to keep shooting costs to a minimum, it still added up to about $10 million per episode.

7. THE BIG BANG THEORY

Budget: $9 million per episode

A still from the CBS series 'The Big Bang Theory.'
CBS Entertainment

While it was once a run-of-the-mill, vaguely-offensive-to-nerds sitcom, The Big Bang Theory has become a record-breaking hit for CBS—so much so that the seven main cast members renegotiated their contracts a few years back and are now making between $750,000 and $1 million per episode. Add that to shooting costs, the show's numerous celebrity cameos, and the royalty fee they pay to Barenaked Ladies for the theme song, and the show ends up costing around $9 million for 25 minutes of airtime.

8. MARCO POLO

Budget: $9 million per episode

Netflix had high hopes for Marco Polo, an epic historical drama that traced the early years of its titular merchant/explorer. The show debuted in December 2014 with a $90 million budget for its first 10 episodes. Just a few weeks later, Netflix happily renewed the series for a second season with the same basic budget, which ultimately ended up being its last. The series is best known for leaving the streaming giant $200 million in debt.

9. ROME

Budget: $9 million per episode

A still from 'Rome'
HBO

In a way, one can almost blame Rome—John Milius, William J. MacDonald, and Bruno Heller’s historical drama about two Roman soldiers who regularly become entangled in real-life historical events—for Netflix’s big gamble on Marco Polo. But its initial success is also regularly cited as the reason we have shows like Game of Thrones. Though Rome's first season was popular enough to justify its $9 million per episode budget, ratings took a dive in season two, which ended up being its last.

10. SENSE8

Budget: $9 million per episode

It might be the most successful thing the Wachowskis have made since The Matrix, but Netflix still had to cancel this sci-fi sleeper hit because it was costing them a healthy $9 million per episode. Apparently, the Wachowskis insisted on filming everything on location, meaning they had to pay for long-term filming permits in nine different metropolitan areas around the world.

Mark Hamill Confirmed How He'll Be Returning in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

We can always count on Mark Hamill to give us some early intel on the next Star Wars movie—whether the studios like it or not. And earlier this week, the 67-year-old actor came through for us yet again.

While attending the Child’s Play premiere, the Associated Press asked Hamill about The Rise of Skywalker and whether he would be involved in the final film in the Skywalker Saga. Hamill confirmed that he would indeed be making an appearance, and shed new light on how.

When asked if this would be his final appearance in the Star Wars franchise, Hamill replied, “I sure hope so,” before elaborating, “I had closure in [The Last Jedi]. The fact that I’m involved in any capacity is only because of that peculiar aspect of the Star Wars mythology where if you’re a Jedi, you get to come back and make a curtain call as a Force ghost.”

The fact that Hamill will appear as a Force ghost doesn’t come as a big shock to fans, as most have been convinced that was the only way he could return to the franchise. (He did die in the previous film, The Last Jedi, after all.) However, suspicious fans have been speculating about other ways he could come back, with some using promotional photos as possible evidence that Luke will be resurrected.

Despite knowing a major part of Luke Skywalker’s return in The Rise of Skywalker, we still have plenty of questions. We’ll just have to wait until the film debuts on December 20 to find everything out.

[h/t Associated Press]

Fans Are Rallying for Macaulay Culkin to Play Joker in The Batman

Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone (1990).
Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone (1990).
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

After months of speculation, it was only recently announced that Robert Pattinson will be the next actor to don the Dark Knight's iconic cape in Matt Reeves's upcoming film The Batman. Unsurprisingly, the response to the casting news was mixed.

While it’s believed The Batman will center around a younger version of Bruce Wayne than we’ve seen previously, there is still a lot of mystery surrounding other major plot points—including which villains will be included, and who will play them.

We Got This Covered reports that various DC characters are being rumored to appear in the film, including Penguin, Catwoman, Riddler, Firefly, Two-Face, and the Mad Hatter. But fans are desperate to know if the most notable Batman villain will be included on the roster: the Joker.

Though there has been no mention of the Joker in conversations surrounding the new film, that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill—nor has it prevented fans from offering up their ideas on who could nail the iconic role, and Macaulay Culkin is apparently at the top of the list.

The former child star has not commented on the validity of the rumors, but many DC fans are on board with it, including digital artist Bryan Zapp who created an image of what Culkin would look like as the Joker.

Meanwhile, Todd Phillips's Joker, a standalone film focusing on the villain’s origin story and starring Joaquin Phoenix, is set to hit theaters on October 4.

Although it could get confusing, The Batman will be part of the DCEU, while Joker will not live in the shared universe, which means there could very well be two portrayals of the same character at the same time. Whether or not Culkin would take on the role—or if there will be a Joker at all—is only up for speculation right now.

[h/t We Got This Covered]

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