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Game of Thrones may not always be a particularly happy show, but it never fails to look anything less than absolutely spectacular. Between the gorgeous scenery, detailed costumes, epic battles, and hordes of actors, the show always seems to go all out to look great. As it happens, looking great does not come cheap for HBO. Season 6 was the most expensive to date, with a new report revealing each episode cost upwards of $10 million to complete.
Believe it or not, there’s no typo in that number. The episodes for the sixth season did indeed cost at least $10 million each, according to EW. With ten episodes in the season, the figure for filming alone will be upward of $100,000,000. Throw in all of the costs that come with promoting the show, and HBO is footing a massive bill for Season 6.
Taking into account the way that Game of Thrones has expanded over the years, it’s only natural that the budget has needed to increase as well. Back in Season 1, most of the action was split between King’s Landing, the North, the Wall, and the Dothraki Sea. In Season 5, the characters were spread all over. There was royal drama in King’s Landing, Sansa and Brienne in the North, Jon and Stannis at the Wall, Jon beyond the Wall for a massive fight sequence, Arya in Essos, Dany in Meereen, Tyrion on the run, and Jaime visiting Dorne. That’s a lot of sets, a lot of cast, and a lot of costumes, to say nothing of the special effects. No wonder the budget has been higher in recent seasons.
There aren’t too many plot details released just yet for Season 6, but we know enough to guess that there’s one episode that might have gone significantly over that $10 million figure. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have described this year’s battle as the biggest and best that they’ve done so far; given the scale of the Battle of the Blackwater in Season 2 and the battle at Hardhome in Season 5, the upcoming Season 6 clash will have to be particularly expansive. Expansive on HBO doesn’t come cheap.
Benioff and Weiss must be anxious for Season 6 to go well. It will mark the first season in which the show completely outpaces the books, so any plots that don’t go over well with viewers can’t be attributed to sticking to the source material. If ever the showrunners needed and deserved a bigger budget, Season 6 would be the time. Considering the way that Season 6 ended, the last thing the show needs is to have to go cheap on making the dragons look realistic or the White Walkers look terrifying or Ramsay Bolton’s decapitated hood look lifelike...
Okay, so there’s no guarantee that Ramsay will be gloriously murdered in Season 6, but we can still hope. Luckily, we’ll soon be able to see just what Game of Thrones has done with all that money. The Season 6 premiere airs on April 24 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. For a refresher on what to expect, check out our breakdown of what we know so far about the sixth season.