You can say what you want about not watching the looming Apple TV+ and Disney+ services, but one thing you can’t accuse them of being is cheap when it comes to their flagship originals which are set to be among the most expensive shows ever made.
“See,” Apple’s upcoming hour-long sci-fi drama series starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard, is set in the far future on an Earth where a pandemic has killed most of the human population, the few survivors left are blind.
This week, The Wall Street Journal reports that the show is coming in at a cost of nearly $15 million per episode. An episode count hasn’t been released but should it be the streaming standard of around 8-10 episodes – that could come in at near $120-150 million.
In addition, the article also indicates Disney+’s lavish first live-action “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” is also clocking in at a budget of around the same amount – nearly $15 million an episode. It has a confirmed eight-episode run.
Launching a service flagship show requires big bucks. The first season of CBS All Access’ “Star Trek: Discovery” came in at $125 million, a little over $8 million an episode across a 15 episode first season.
Netflix launched its originals with the relatively cost-effective “House of Cards” at $4.5M an episode – but have since spent much more on shows like “The Crown” ($13M), “The Get Down” ($11M), “Sense8” ($9M), “Marco Polo” ($9M) & “Altered Carbon” ($7M).
HBO famously spent big on “Band of Brothers” ($12.5M), Rome” ($9M) and recently paid $15 million per episode for the final season of “Game of Thrones”. All these records could easily be decimated by Amazon Studios’ proposed “The Lord of the Rings” series which they’ve already spent $250 million on just to acquire the rights to develop.
Part of the reason for all this is that streamers and premium cable understand that their originals are pitted more against theatrical releases than network TV, meaning their first-party content has to be on par with movies in terms of production value.