Fox skipped the standard practice of ordering just one pilot episode to start out and went for the whole shebang- 13 episodes, including a $14 million premiere. The sets and special effects proved way too expensive for the network to keep going with the Australia-based show however, and it probably won’t return to the small screen.
HBO really went for it with this show; they actually created an real old west town instead of just building-front sets.
The pilot episode cost $18 million, since they recreated a 1920s Atlantic City boardwalk. They had authentic music, cars, clothes, and guns all from the days of the flappers. Not to mention it was directed by Martin Scorsese.
$5.2 million/episode final season
NBC didn’t have the luxury of contract negotiations with Kelsey Grammer, seeing as he was already established with the network. By the 11th season of the show he was making $1.6 million an episode, equaling 30% of the total budget. Even the dog who played Eddie made $10,000 an episode.
Heavy promotion, big budgets and good pre-launch reviews couldn’t save this expensive show from its downfall. The first episode aired only 2 months after a little show called Game of Thrones, and fans of knights and sword-fighting had their appetites satisfied. It was canceled after the first season.
With a budget of $90 million for the 10-episode 1st season, Marco Polo was a giant gamble for Netflix. Luckily for fans season 2 will premiere this year.
$10 million/episode in final season
The cast banded together and demanded to be paid at the same rate, making their work environment more harmonious. By the final season they were each earning $1 million per episode which was 60% of the per episode budget.
Overlapping Deadwood by one season, HBO had the tricky situation of airing 2 super expensive shows at once. Luckily they partnered with BBC who contributed 15% of the cost in exchange for the airing rights for the UK. The show won 7 Emmys and was loved by critics and historians alike, but after 2 seasons it was cancelled due to the growing lengths that had to be made to keep it as accurate as possible.
They couldn’t even use the Roman set for other future projects because a fire destroyed part of it.
Game of Thrones
This season has its biggest budget yet. The episodes may even go over the budget, seeing as it promises the biggest battle scene in the show’s history. Get excited.
This little hospital show starring George Clooney was obviously a gigantic hit for NBC. When Clooney’s movie career took off the show faced losing their bread and butter. NBC agreed to a gigantic 2-year budget to pay the salary while keeping up with explosive nature of the big episodes.
This was seen as a big mistake, and the show lost 15% of its ratings for those 2 seasons, and Clooney ended up leaving in 1999 anyways. I guess this is a prime example that money doesn’t solve everything.