How Much It Costs To Make A Single Episode Of Game Of Thrones May Astound You



Game of Thrones is unlike any other television show in history. The elaborate wardrobe, top-of-the-line actors, exotic sets and mind-blowing CGI, make it more like 10 mini movies that are created and produced week after week. And to get this Hollywood blockbuster-type effect HBO spends a great amount of money to make Game of Thrones as epic as it is. How much you ask? A whole lot.

You would assume that a large amount of costs goes to the salaries of the actors or the wonderful sets in picturesque locations all around the world, but it turns out a huge chunk of the budget goes to the special effects. You want huge dragons flying around and armies of frozen zombies? That will cost a pretty penny.

From Money Inc:

The CGI industry acts as an assembly line with a team of 10-12 who processes shots through several stages: Modeling, Tracking, Animation, Dust Busting, BgPrep, FX, Compositing, Lighting, etc. The average time for this process within the team is at least four weeks if not more. This equates to around 1,600 man hour at a minimum without overtime. At $50 per hour, per person, that equates to a minimum of $80K per shot. If a Game of Thrones episode has 10-minutes of CGI, which equates to $800,000.

CGI production is extremely computer resource-intensive. A single frame can take around 12-hours to render based on the complexity. With 45 frames per second, that equates to 540 compute hours for a single version of a single second. Most shots experience around 10,800 computer hours. A single hour on a datacenter at Amazon Web Services (AMS) is around $0.65 so the equivalent of 1-second costs $7,000. Extrapolate this based on the amount of time of CGI in the show and it can get into the millions. There are other additional factors that drive up the cost including computer storage space per episode, accounting, human resources, overhead and the multiple other departments that contribute to the successful launch of a show.

The cost per episode of GoT in 2011 was estimated at approximately $6 million, but demand for more incredible battle scenes and more believable dragons has pushed the costs up to an astonishing $10 million for Season 6. The unforgettable Blackwater battle scene in Season Two alone cost $2 million, which brought that single episode to $8 million.

Game of Thrones rivals the most expensive shows of all-time such as Friends, which had a cost of $10 million per episode, and E.R., that had a cost of $13 million. The difference in these shows compared to GoT is that they spend nearly all of their money on the actors. In the final season of Friends, each of stars made $1 million per episode and George Clooney was paid $13 million per episode of E.R.

I almost feel guilty pirating GoT.


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