How HBO Kept ‘House of the Dragon’ Costs Under $20 Million per Episode (EXCLUSIVE)

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HBO’s “House of the Dragon” cost under $20 million per episode to produce its 10-episode first season, which debuts Aug. 21, a source close to production told Variety.

For comparison, “Game of Thrones” cost HBO around $100 million per season. Its per-episode price tag began at roughly $6 million in Season 1 and rose to $15 million for the show’s eighth and final season.

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If you’re wondering how HBO managed to keep the cost of “House of the Dragon” Season 1 from rising too much above what it paid for the final season of “Game of Thrones,” especially with even more CGI dragons expected to be flying around, the production insider says HBO is now so adept at these world-building series through years of not just “GoT,” but also producing “Westworld” and “His Dark Materials,” that the team can make a high-quality series as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Amazon’s upcoming “The Lord of the Rings” TV series “The Rings of Power” will cost approximately $465 million to produce its eight-episode first season, Variety has confirmed. Sources said that the hefty price tag for Prime Video’s “LOTR” Season 1, which debuts Sept. 2, includes startup costs for launching the series that will presumably be spread out over multiple seasons.

The industry’s spiraling rate of content spending is coming under new scrutiny as episodic TV production budgets soar. On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that sources close to production say Netflix shelled out $30 million for each episode of “Stranger Things 4,” which will launch in two batches in May and July.

Set two centuries before the events of “Game of Thrones,” the 10-episode prequel series “House of the Dragon” will depict how the House of Targaryen fell into a bitter and brutal civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons — presaging the beginning of the end of Westeros’ ruling family.

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The series was created by author George R. R. Martin and Ryan J. Condal (“Colony”), based on Martin’s novel “Fire & Blood.” Condal and director Miguel Sapochnik are executive producers and co-showrunners on the series; Martin and Vince Gerardis are executive producing as well alongside Sara Hess, Jocelyn Diaz, Ron Schmidt, Clare Kilner, Geeta V. Patel and Greg Yaitanes.

Much like the original series, “House of the Dragon” boasts a sprawling cast, with a smaller core set of characters including Paddy Considine (as King Viserys I), Emmy D’Arcy (as Princess Rhaenrya, Viserys’ first child and his heir apparent), Matt Smith (as Prince Daemon, Viserys’ younger brother), Rhys Ifans (as Ser Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King), Olivia Cooke (as Lady Alicent Hightower, Otto’s daughter) and Fabien Frankel (as Ser Criston Cole, a knight with eyes for Rhaenrya).

The show will also costar Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Sonoya Mizuno, Ryan Corr, Jefferson Hall, David Horovitch, Graham McTavish, Matthew Needham, Bill Paterson and Gavin Spokes.

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