With iron thrones, extravagant weddings, and gilded halls, there is no denying that the Seven Kingdoms aren't exactly short of a bob or two. It is easy to see how the sprawling spectacle that is HBO's Game of Thrones is currently one of the most expensive shows on television thanks to its nautical brawls, CGI dragons, and paying to keep Emilia Clarke in a spiffing blonde wig.
However, as we enter the final season of fire and fighting, it looks like Arya Stark better dig deep to pull out that Braavosi coin, because it sounds like we may be needing it. Thrones may have already clocked in with an impressive $10 million for some of its more elaborate episodes, but prepare for that figure to rise like Viserion from his watery grave.
Don't 'Bank' On It
According to Variety, Season 8's episodes are expected to cost an eye-watering $15 million a piece, bringing the final total for the show's swansong to a collective $90 million. Even more astoundingly, experts speculate that this may even be downplaying the true cost of bringing an end to David Benioff and D.B. Weiss' saga.
In the report, Netflix finance chief David Wells also looks to the future of TV and imagines a reality where we could hit astronomical figures for a single hour of your favorite binge:
“Is $20 million-an-hour television possible? Certainly. If you have the numbers of people watching it, we certainly can support that level of quality in terms of TV.”
#GameofThrones has never been a show that skimped on ambitiousness, but looking back at the early years and the wobbly sets of Winterfell, the final season will likely be a very different beast. Long gone are the days when we simply had to worry how much it would cost to get Sean Bean on board, and fans are constantly looking for what's bigger and better.
A bigger budget was always in the cards for Season 8, but is the best news that more moolah means we can surely get the direwolves back? Given how prominent the Stark pets are in #GeorgeRRMartin's books, was anyone really buying that we would see the last of Nymeria and her pack with a simple, "That's not you" and a pat on the head from Arya?
Ironically, it costs HBO more to bring Ghost and Nymeria to our screens that it does Dany's brood of brotherly dragons. One of the biggest criticisms of the abridged Season 7 was the lack of screen time the direwolves got. Nymeria was reduced to a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo, while Ghost lived up to his name and missed out on the entire season. Although there were plans to bring back Jon Snow's albino partner in crime this year, "Stormborn" producer Bryan Cogman revealed that Season 7 just didn't have the coin to do so.
Thrones' formative years saw Benioff and Weiss doing anything to avoid the mammoth task of crafting a costly battle scene, but these days we can't more for fields of fire or watery wight wastelands that hold host to epic brawls between our favorite characters. Fans of the snowy saga are expecting some pretty major battles in the final run of episodes, and with the man behind "Hardhome" and "The Battle of the Bastards" returning to direct at least one episode, chances are it'll be a doozy.
Luckily, with increased popularity, worldwide syndication, and the cream of the acting crop, you can argue that Game of Thrones should be breaking the bank now more than ever. With just six episodes left until we leave what we know behind for those mysterious spin-offs, if you don't push the boat out now, when can you? Either way, HBO will be likely sailing to Essos as we speak to make a large withdrawal from the clutches of Tycho Nestoris and bring us a Wun-Wun-sized farewell to one of the best TV treats of the modern age.
Does 'Game of Thrones' deserve a bigger budget for Season 8?