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Why Are TV Shows So Expensive Right Now?

Streaming giants have changed so much about the way we consume media, and it’s becoming clear they’ve begun to change what it takes to make media, too.

Yesterday, a new report stated that Netflix may have spent approximately $30 million per episode to create the upcoming season of Stranger Things. That number is pretty hard to wrap our minds around, but wait until you hear how much Amazon spent per episode for its television series adaptation of Lord of the Rings: $58 million. Those numbers are massive leaps from where television budgets were even a few years ago. At the end of it’s eight-season run, HBO was spending roughly $15 million an episode on Game of Thrones. 

Speaking of Game of Thrones, its upcoming spin-off House of the Dragon has a $20 million/per episode budget. How does it cost less than a show like Stranger Things? Variety reports that “the production insider says HBO is now so adept at these world-building series through years of not just Game of Thrones, but also producing Westworld and His Dark Materials, that the team can make a high-quality series as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

Compare these budgets to just a few movies that have come out recently. The Daniels’ A24 hit Everything Everywhere All at Once came in at $25 million for the whole movie. Last year’s folklore tale The Green Knight transported viewers to an ancient Arthurian epic for just $15 million. And Nicolas Cage’s moody, tragic study on heartbreak Pig cost just $4 million.

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Shows like Stranger Things and Lord of the Rings rely heavily on CGI and post-production work, so it isn’t totally surprising that these shows cost more than the average sitcom. But as Netflix is trying to offset record-low numbers and recorrect its course, it may be time for streaming giants to rethink their money management.

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