Hollywood movies are expensive to make. They often double-down on spectacle to drive the narrative. What about the cost of television shows? Between cast salaries, special effects and detailed sets, TV shows can be as expensive as movies. Here are four of the most expensive TV shows ever filmed.
“Friends,” the popular ‘90s comedy, cost $10 million per episode to produce. With fewer sets, less special effects and shorter episodes, comedies are typically cheaper to produce than dramas. Due to the show’s popularity, however, the star-studded cast of “Friends,” which included Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry, demanded salaries of $1 million per episode.
“ER” was a record-setting medical drama for NBC. It featured a large cast and special event-like episodes that were more like movies than television. “ER” also launched the career of George Clooney. At the height of “ER’s” popularity, NBC spent $13 million per episode to keep Chicago’s County General Hospital afloat.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. HBO found that out when it spent $9 million per episode on elaborately detailed sets and costume designs for the series. “Rome” aired from 2005-2007, and although it was a hit with critics, its bloated production budget was its downfall.
“Marco Polo” debuted on Netflix in 2014. Focusing on the life of the famous explorer, “Marco Polo” was filmed in exotic locations, featured a large cast, and had blockbuster costume and set designs. It cost $9 million per episode to produce, making it Netflix’s most expensive show.