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

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

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

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.

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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What Movie Do You Want to Watch? This Website Analyzes Film Critic Reviews to Help You Choose

She's smiling because it only took her two minutes to choose a movie.
She's smiling because it only took her two minutes to choose a movie.
Rowan Jordan/iStock via Getty Images

Much like sommeliers can detect subtle notes of who-knows-what in a sip of wine, film critics are fantastic at identifying influences and drawing parallels between movies. Cinetrii is a handy website that crowdsources all that movie knowledge to help you find your next favorite film.

Basically, you enter the name of a movie you enjoyed in the search bar, and the site will show you a node graph with film recommendations splintering off the search query. Click on one, and you’ll see a quote from a critic (or critics) who referenced the films together. This way, you get a list of recommendations based on different aspects of the movie, and you get to decide for yourself what you’d like to see more of.

If, for example, you were blown away by the special effects in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, you might like Doctor Strange; according to Variety, it boasts “a staggering visual effects innovation, in which the building-bending seen in Christopher Nolan’s Inception is taken to an extreme that would blow even M.C. Escher’s mind.” If what the Chicago Tribune calls an “elegant brain-bender” quality appealed to you more, The Matrix might be a perfect fit.

Films above your search query were released before the movie you typed in, while films below came out after it. The shorter the line, the more closely the films are related, as calculated by the website’s algorithm. And, as Lifehacker points out, that algorithm doesn’t give any special treatment to massive Hollywood blockbusters, so Cinetrii is an especially great way to find hidden gems. Because it shows you the critics' actual quotes, you’re not left to wonder why a certain film landed on the recommendations list—which can’t always be said for “Watch next” lists on streaming services.

You can explore Cinetrii here.

[h/t Lifehacker]