Game of Thrones season 8, the final run of HBO’s fantasy mega-hit, will reportedly be the series’ most expensive season to date. Despite having a reduced count of just six episodes, Game of Thrones’ final season won’t be cheap to make. Of course, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering the massive battle ahead.
Game of Thrones season 7 ended with the Night King bursting through The Wall at Eastwatch atop the undead corpse of Viserion - a moment so iconic that it’s already been adapted into a Funko Pop figure. Meanwhile, Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen and Kit Harington’s Jon Snow made good ib their romantic alliance, at the exact same moment that Bran and Sam worked out that Dany and Jon are related. It will be two Targaryens with two dragons against the Night King’s horde of White Walkers and reanimated creatures, then, in the final season of the show.
Nobody would expect the full realization of this conflict to come cheap, but the sheer scale of HBO’s projected spending is somewhat surprising, if this report turns out to be accurate. The source of the numbers is Variety, and they claim that HBO is expecting to foot a bill amount to more than $15 million per episode. By TV standards, that is an absolutely huge spend.
Variety notes that the “$15 million-plus price tag is due in part to a shooting schedule that more resembles that of a feature film than an episodic series.” Indeed, shooting Thrones means filming in multiple continents at once, which is a far cry from the usual studio-heavy TV shtick. And all the special effects, which can’t look schlocky for fear of ruining the magic, only add to the hefty bill that HBO has to pick up.
However, HBO has little need to worry. Game of Thrones started out as a cheaper show with lots of dialogue scenes and a budget of roughly $6 million per episode. As everyone hoped, it has since grown into a weekly dose of blockbuster fantasy action that millions of fans devour around the globe. Season 7 reportedly cost around $10 million per episode, and it's a logical progression for season 8 to cost even more.
As Variety’s report notes, the show’s success has opened up “dozens of healthy revenue streams for HBO”, including a never-ending mountain of merchandise that includes the aforementioned Funko figures. HBO’s investment in Game of Thrones will also reap rewards after the show has finished. Merchandise and streaming rights will continue to generate profit, and the much-talked-about spinoff series - there are now five in development - are bound to create new ways for fans to part with their cash.
HBO needn’t worry about spending big this year, then. Thrones, as a brand, will keep them in gold for the foreseeable future. A show this popular always pays its debts.
Game of Thrones season 8 does not have an official premiere date yet.