Tag Archives: HBO

The six-episode final season of the hit HBO drama will cost an otherworldly $15 million per episode

Westeros might have a debt problem, but Game of Thrones is rolling in dough.

The six-episode final season of the hit HBO drama will cost an otherworldly $15 million per episode, Variety reports, while others have hinted that each installment could actually cost significantly more than that.

That would make the show’s last season the most expensive television season of all time on a per-episode basis. A few individual episodes of other TV shows have cost more—the pilot for HBO’s Westworld, for instance, reportedly cost $25 million—but no series has ever been so consistently costly across an entire season.

Some networks have come close. Netflix’s The Crown and recently-canceled The Get Down both cost about $10 million per episode. Many other shows on American cable and streaming TV cost in the $6-to-$8 million range. But when it comes to spending, no one does it better than Thrones.


Compared to its current inflated production costs, the fantasy series was produced quite modestly when it first aired, at just $6 million per episode—on par with the first seasons of Netflix’s Stranger Things and FX’s American Crime Story. As Thrones has become more popular, though, it’s invested in more shooting locations, bigger and better visual effects, and an ever-growing list of talent. The series has filmed in Northern Ireland, Croatia, Malta, Spain, Iceland, and Morocco.

Elsewhere across TV, rising production costs are due to a confluence of factors:

  • more investment by deep-pocketed streaming services like Netflix;
  • increasingly competitive bidding wars over talent;
  • a shift in focus to big, bold, original dramas;
  • growing concern over growing subscriber numbers than improving dwindling ad revenues.

Variety offered another theory: Inexperienced filmmakers and crew members don’t know don’t know how to run a tight ship.

Industry insiders privately speculate that the strain on the talent pool of line producers and technical, craft and stunt crew members has been a factor in what seems to be a jump in the number of on-set accidents in recent months.

Simply put, it’s impossible to have seasoned people at the helm of every show when the volume of scripted series production spiked 71% between 2011 and 2016 — or from 266 series in 2011 to 455 in 2016, according to FX Networks Research. The 2017 tally is projected to top 500.

The $90 million final season of Game of Thrones will debut on HBO in either 2018 or 2019.


The age of $15-million-per-hour TV is upon us


HBO Hackers Threaten to Leak ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Finale Episode 7

So far, the only leaked episodes of “Game of Thrones” Season 7 have come from HBO partners themselves. Hackers have shared other data, and pieces of GoT scripts, but never full episodes. Yet.

HBO’s hackers recently emailed Mashable with details on their latest exploits, vowing to leak the Season 7 finale, Episode 7, “as soon as possible.”

According to Mashable, the data dump the hackers — “Mr. Smith group” — shared with them included login credentials for every HBO social media account. The hackers claimed to “have access to many HBO Platforms already” and posted on several HBO Giphy accounts, writing things like “HB-OLD is Dying….” before the pages were deleted.

But it’s this threat, emailed from the group to Mashable, that’s getting the most attention:

“Be ready for GOT S& E6 &E7 as soon as possible.”

“As soon as possible” may mean they don’t have it yet and may never have it, they just want to hold the threat over HBO’s head.

The email was sent before Episode 6 aired on August 20, but Episode 6 was already leaked by HBO Europe accounts several days before that anyway. So a threat to leak Episode 6 isn’t exactly scary to anyone. But Episode 7… that’s the season finale. If they had it to leak, they probably would’ve done it by now, since HBO doesn’t seem interested in playing the hackers’ “game” and giving them (anymore) money.


Even if the Season 7 finale somehow finds its way onto the web — from hackers or, more likely considering the recent pattern, an HBO contractor — it shouldn’t affect the ratings in a negative way. And even if hackers do spoil what happens in the finale … well, guess what? Someone on the inside already did that months ago when they leaked a full-season breakdown on Reddit. HBO’s own allies have been leading the leak game all year, at least when it comes to “Game of Thrones” Season 7 content, which is all that most fans care about anyway.

The highly anticipated “Game of Thrones” Season 7 finale airs Sunday, Aug. 27 at 9 p.m. on HBO.




Game of Thrones is a series of surprises. In the beginning, it was a shock to see the nice, “good” characters come to awful ends. We learned no one was safe and threw around the phrase as comfort every time another heroic person bit the dust. Then, we were awed by smoke monsters and the presence of dragons. Most recently, it’s been a bit of a wonder that none of our favorite characters are dying; they’re actually making it out of seemingly impossible situations.

“Beyond the Wall” changed the game with a blue-eyed wight dragon revelation in its final scene. I don’t use the game-changer line lightly. The Night King‘s action altered what I thought I knew about how Game of Thrones would end. That’s one of the reasons the Night King is the MVP of the penultimate episode of season seven.

Before we dive into the Night King’s profound show of power, let’s touch on the obvious rationale for naming him MVP. He was a textbook example of working smart, not hard in “Beyond the Wall.” The Night King didn’t have to do anything to lure Jon Snow and his men; they planned their own idiotic Tour of the North trip. Once he had them there, he let his vast, exceptionally expendable army do their thing. He didn’t have to raise a bony finger.

The Night King has all the time in the world. He was content to let his army wait out the refreezing of the lake and go after Jon and his men. His patience paid off when Daenerys flew her dragons to the scene, which leads us to another reason the Night King wins the episode. He got himself a damn undead dragon.

The leader of all the White Walkers had massive, dragon-killing spears for some reason. I guess he’s probably heard about Dany and her dragons by now, so maybe he’s been getting prepared. He didn’t panic when he saw Drogon light swaths of his army on fire or call for a retreat. He doesn’t have the burden of compassion to hold him back. The Night King remained calm and took down Viserion without any sign of emotion.

Awful? Yes. I’m not siding with the Night King. But I can’t deny he made an intelligent and valuable move in a sea of our heroes making stupid decisions. He resurrected Viserion and gained a giant, scaly asset—a weapon capable of changing the tide.

Call me a sweet summer child, but I believed Daenerys and her dragons would be the end of the Night King and his army. Dragon fire is one of the few guaranteed ways to end a White Walker’s existence. You’d think by now I would know Game of Thrones isn’t a show about happy endings, but I had a hope it’s where the story was going.

I can see how a dragon fueled triumph could still happen. Since Jon has been dead before, maybe he’ll be able to connect with and ride Viserion. But that’s a theory for another time.

As it is, the Night King scored a huge win by gaining an ice dragon. The dragons seemed like undefeatable, surefire solutions to the survival of Westeros. If the Night King can take down such a powerful force by barely exerting any effort, what else can he do? We thought we saw it all when Jon witnessed the Night King in action at “Hardhome,” but that terrifying display was nothing compared to how the zombie ruler shifted an entire freaking war by throwing a spear at a dragon like most of us toss trash into a dumpster.

For the first time, I feel like the citizens of Westeros are utterly and completely screwed. Good job, Night King.

Does my choice for MVP align with yours? Fly a dragon (too soon?) to the comments and tell me your pick.



Game of Thrones Finale Trailer Teases an Insane Meeting of All Your Favorites

Starting with last season and really ramping up this year, Game of Throneshas been efficiently re-uniting the once-scattered cast of the HBO series. Arya briefly saw her direwolf; Sansa has found both Bran and Jon. A whole mess of characters who knew each other’s dads met up north of the Wall. But nothing we’ve seen yet can quite match the major meeting looming in the finale. Everyone will be down south for the big meeting of Kings, Queens, and zombies. Well, almost everyone.

You had your chance to go to the party, Sansa, but you (snottily) sent Brienne instead. Speaking of which, let’s take a full accounting of everyone we see gathered in one place for the finale.

We see (deep breath): Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) , Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Bronn (Jerome Flynn), Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk)—or at least his fleet, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), Pod (Daniel Portman), and just behind him Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), Varys (Conleth Hill), Theon (Alfie Allen), Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Davos (Liam Cunningham), the Hound (Rory McCann) and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie). We don’t see Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) she’s undoubtedly there as well as a few other familiar faces. Plus, you know, scores of armies spoiling for a fight.

Please don’t ask me how Grey Worm and the Unsullied escaped from Casterly Rock. Just be glad our second favorite eunuch (behind Varys but in front of Theon) is safe and sound. As for the dazzling location itself, this is the much-anticipated Dragonpit.

News first broke back in August that Game of Thrones was using the picturesque Italica ruins near Seville, Spain, to stand in for the Dragonpit—a cavernous ruin perched atop of the hills of King’s Landing. This is what that evocative location looks like in the books, and here’s what the ruins look like in real life.

This is why we think by Daenerys, will likely be there. What’s a Dragonpit without dragons? This as-yet-unamed episode will be directed by Jeremy Podeswa. Controversial though he may be, Podeswa has directed some truly impressive and beautifully filmed action for Thrones in the past, including Jorah and Tyrion’s confrontation with the Stone Men, Brienne and Pod’s heroic rescue of Sansa and Theon from the Bolton soldiers, and Tyrion’s dramatic unchaining of Viserion and Rhaegal.


So whatever happens at the end of this dustup between so many main characters, it’s promising to be a lovely war.



Here’s Everything That Happens In The Latest Leaked Episode Of Game Of Thrones

Okay so, we begin north of the Wall with Jon Snow’s zombie-snatching party, where Tormund jokes that he’s going to fuck Gendry and then warns Jon not to be so proud that he ends up dooming the North. It’s a pleasant enough scene, where the disparate party all settle scores and do some catching up as they march to purposefully hang out with the scariest motherfucker on the continent. For some reason, Jon also tries to give Jorah back his family’s Valyrian steel sword before Jorah wisely tells him he doesn’t deserve it.

Back in Winterfell, Arya and Sansa have their inevitable confrontation over Sansa’s old letter to Robb Stark assuring him that the Lannisters were good, and it plays out about how one would expect, with Arya getting in Sansa’s face and calling her a fake Stark for betraying her family. Sansa makes the obvious and true point that she was under duress and that she had to do it to stay alive, which, Arya being Arya, doesn’t sit well with her sister, who insists she’d have died instead of writing the letter. Both sisters have valid points and even after Sansa points out that infighting is exactly what Stark enemies want, Arya is stubborn enough to hold onto her antipathy.

Tyrion and Daenerys hold a debrief after Tyrion’s (still rather baffling) summit with his brother in the Red Keep, during which Tyrion tells Dany that Jon is horny for her. Tyrion and Dany are an odd pair, since she is the all-consuming conqueror with three dragons/children while Tyrion is the intellectual realist who knows the importance of the gritty process of diplomacy. The question of conquering vs. ruling that’s defined Dany’s arc for seasons now hasn’t melted away, and if anything, now that her dragons are explicit bearers of an apocalyptic power, it’s become even more prominent. She can win the war at anytime if she wants, but that won’t be enough. She has to, in her own words, break the wheel and ensure a better future. It will not be easy, especially when pitted against a sadist like Cersei.


When we return north of the Wall, everything is much more ominous, and the party spots a big hulking bear. All of a sudden they realize it’s a zombie bear and HOLY FUCKING SHIT. We’re now basically in a horror movie as this big fucker is biting people in the ass and generally destroying the tiny party of bandits and wildlings. Zombie Bear is more terrifying than Dany’s dragon, and even after Beric sets him on fire, he bites the shit out of Thoros of Myr, who later succumbs to his wounds.

There’s a short Winterfell interlude where Littlefinger reveals his plan, which is to put Brienne in between Arya and Sansa, ideally killing Arya in the process. This matters, but also, the zombie army is a much more pressing matter.

And there they are, a small detachment of ice zombies led by one of the Night King’s blue-eyed lieutenants. They fall into the party’s trap, and as soon as Jon slices open the white walker, all the wights but one immediately crumble into dust. Who knows why this happens, but it is convenient for our band of heroes, who are out to capture one wight. Tormund punches the remaining wight the face and the party captures it, but not before it lets out an ominous shriek, which inevitably means the rest of the army of the dead are coming.


Fleeing, Jon and friends run onto the surface of a frozen lake, and though they immediately try to stop and turn around to keep from breaking through, the ice zombies are now in attack mode, forcing them to make for an island in the center of the lake. Thankfully, the ice cracks, and hordes of undead are swallowed up by the lake. Still, a bunch of zombies remain on the shore, trapping our heroes on the rock.

Gendry, who Jon dispatched immediately to run back to Eastwatch, somehow avoided the ice lake and reaches the Wall after an insane snow marathon. He tells the men there they need to get word to Dany because Jon and his crew will all be dead “unless the Lord of Light sends us a bit of fire.”

And oh, would you look at that, there’s Dany in an extra-cool looking winter version of her battle dress telling Tyrion to shut up so she can fly north. Somehow, Jon and his buddies have survived (Thoros of Myr excepted) on a barren rock in a frozen lake surrounded by an army of thousands of ice zombies long enough for a raven to get from Eastwatch to Dragonstone and for Dany to ride north with all three dragons. Worrying about space and time is pretty much a lost pursuit at this point in the season.


The Hound, bored out of his gourd, starts throwing rocks at the army, which leads one particularly skeletal looking one to learn that it can just walk across the frozen lake, which has now re-frozen during the time that the heroes have been chilling on that rock. Now it’s time to fight again, and they somehow resist the onslaught and seem to be pretty efficient at killing ice zombies, although the scary thing about zombies isn’t that each one is particularly threatening, it’s that there are just so many of them. I don’t know how it’s plausible that this group of maybe a dozen frozen dudes kills as many zombies as they do, but Game of Thrones is more or less a pure action show this season, so I suppose it works.

All of a sudden, IT’S DRAGON TIME! Ice and fire are finally battling and it goddamn rules, even if it is the sort of deus ex machina device that the show staunchly refused until Season 7. Dany melts a ton of zombies and things appear to be working out until the Night King grabs a javelin and hurls that fucker into one of the minor dragons, sending it crashing into the ice. Big Crossbow may not have been enough to stop a dragon, but the Night King just Randy Johnsons that fucker right out of the sky. It’s hard to watch as its eyes close and it slips into the lake, dead as bricks.

Jon thinks about maybe dueling the Night King, but his buddy grabs him another javelin and Jon books it, only to be tackled into the lake by a trio of zombies. Dany and everyone else board Drogon and beat it, presumably leaving the King in the North drowning and soon to be recruited to the army of the dead.


Somehow, Jon pulls himself out of the lake, which is only just a slightly better position to be in since he’s wet, alone, and still surrounded by an undead army. But he’s saved by his uncle, Benjen Stark, who you’ll remember is the Nice Zombie who saved Bran in Season 6. He makes it back to Eastwatch, and somehow no major characters died in that ludicrous battle.

Despite the dragon vs. zombies extravaganza, there are still nine minutes left in the episode, which begin with Sansa sneaking into Arya’s room to find her unsheathed Valyrian steel dagger lying ominously on her table and a bag full of faces of Arya’s dead enemies. Arya, now a swaggering uber-assassin, is scary as shit as she threatens to skin Sansa and forces her to play the game of faces before leaving her with a wink and the dagger.

Daenerys tells Jon that she’s now fully radicalized against the army of the dead after they claimed one of her babies. Jon, whose scars are now exposed, tells Dany that he wants to bend the knee and the viewer is made to believe that they’re about to bone.

They do not bone.

Instead, the episode ends with the Night King’s army corps of engineers dragging the dead dragon (pretty sure it’s Viserion) out of the lake. The Night King gently touches his head and an icy blue eye opens, and that means we got a dang frost dragon on our hands, folks.


Dany now has two dragons and also has to fight against a resurrected ice dragon someday when they inevitably fight the army of the dead. I don’t think Cersei is going to listen when they show her the wight, but at least Dany knows the stakes.



New ‘Game of Thrones’ Episode Leaks

For the second time in two weeks, the network has seen an upcoming episode of Game of Thronesleak ahead of its scheduled premiere. A HBO Europe spokesperson acknowledged the leak, which was described as “brief.”

“We have learned that the upcoming episode of Game of Thrones was accidentally posted for a brief time on the HBO Nordic and HBO Espana platforms,” the spokesperson said. “The error appears to have originated with a third-party vendor and the episode was removed as soon as it was recognized. This is not connected to the recent cyber incident at HBO in the U.S.”

A Reddit forum dedicated to Game of Thrones, however, was discussing the quality of the episode titled “Death Is the Enemy” that has hit torrent sites (it was described as high quality and only missing the closing credits). The episode appears to have spread quickly on the Internet early Wednesday.

On Aug. 3, the fourth episode of Game of Thrones‘ Season 7 leaked online and made its way onto torrent sites nearly three days ahead of its scheduled bow. That breach was attributed to theft at Star India, which distributes the series in that country. Four arrests have been made in that case, which police say was carried out by current and former employees of Prime Focus Technologies, the company contracted by Star India to manage the data.

The two cases come at a time when HBO has been dealing with anonymous hackers who claim to have taken 1.5 terabytes of data and plan to release it slowly if their ransom demands are not met. So far, the hackers have released a mix of video content, including episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s highly anticipated upcoming season, as well as Game of Thrones script summaries and one executive’s emails that spanned a 30-day period.

The Aug. 3 leak as well as the hacker disruptions have had no effect on Game of Thrones ratings. The Aug. 6 episode, titled “Spoils of War,” posted record-breaking numbers for HBO’s crown jewel series. Those numbers were topped by the Aug. 13 episode Eastwatch.



Another Game of Thrones episode has leaked online

An unaired episode of Game of Thrones has appeared on the internet this morning. Episode six, due to be aired on Sunday, appeared first on file sharing sites and a Reddit post. Some Reddit users claim the episode was accidentally aired by HBO Nordic in Spain for an hour before it was removed. The episode six appearance follows a similar leak of episode four around two weeks ago.

The previous leak was related to a distribution partner in India, and it’s likely this is a similar scenario if the Reddit claims are accurate. HBO was subject to a security breach earlier this week, allowing hackers to reportedly obtain 1.5 terabytes of stolen data from the company’s US servers. This latest leak doesn’t appear to be related to the security issues. Hackers have so far only published published script outlines on the web, rather than full episodes.

HBO has struggled multiple times with Game of Thrones leaks in the past. The first four episodes of season 5 leaked online, thanks to advance screeners that are sent out to members of the press. A HBO subsidiary also released a season 6 episode a day early. HBO decided to scrap screeners for season 7, but that hasn’t prevented two major leaks this season.

The Verge has reached out to HBO for comment, and we’ll update you accordingly.




In last nights episode of Game of Thrones, Arya Stark tailed Littlefinger and found a letter he was hiding in his chambers with a Baratheon seal and a signature by Sansa Stark.


We weren’t given a good look at it, but enough words could be seen to identify it as the letter Sansa was forced into sending to her brother Robb back in season 1.


Update: Internet sleuths have worked out exactly how the letter reads: “Robb, I write to you with a heavy heart. Our good king Robert is dead, killed from wounds he took in a boar hunt. Father has been charged with treason. He conspired with Robert’s brothers against my beloved Joffrey and tried to steal his throne.


“The Lannisters are treating me very well and provide me with every comfort. I beg you: come to King’s Landing, swear fealty to King Joffrey and prevent any strife between the great houses of Lannister and Stark.”


If you recall, Cersei said that she would believe Sansa’s is loyalty on the condition that Sansa write to Robb asking him to bend the knee and swear fealty to Joffrey. 

So why would this be of use to Littlefinger?

I need to think on this a little more, but presumably Littlefinger had spotted tension between Arya and Sansa and was hoping to lead Arya to further evidence of her sister being out for herself.

Yes, Sansa initially stood by the evil Joffrey just so she could become queen, but also it was pretty clear that she signed her name under duress, so I’m not sure how useful it can really be in Littlefinger’s ongoing manipulations.

Earlier in Season 7, in the third episode, “The Queen’s Justice,” current Winterfell maester, Maester Wolkan, casually mentioned that his predecessor Maester Luwin “kept a copy of every raven’s scroll” sent to Winterfell, which explains how Littlefinger got his hands on the letter.

When Littlefinger received the note he said, “Lady Stark thanks you for your service,” presumably aware that Arya was eavesdropping. He deliberately made it sound like Sansa wanted the letter hidden away.

The contents of the letter would cause Arya more concern about Sansa’s loyalties. She wasn’t aware that Sansa wrote it under duress and will now be questioning whether Sansa has been allied with the Lannisters this entire time.

This may not be a happy homecoming after all.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.



The next ‘Game of Thrones’ episode will feature a Jon Snow moment fans are dying to see

The seventh season of “Game of Thrones” has been packed with reunions and meetings between characters, and we’re about to get another highly anticipated encounter — Jon Snow and Drogon.

Jon was surprised by Drogon flying overhead when he first arrived on Dragonstone, but so far we haven’t seen Jon get an actual face-to-face encounter with one of Daenerys’ dragons. All that is about to change with the upcoming episode Sunday.

In the preview for “Eastwatch” released by HBO, we see Daenerys atop Drogon and Jon Snow standing in front of them:

Daenerys Drogon JOn SNowDrogon roars in Jon’s face, but is Daenerys really trying to intimidate him? HBO

Drogon is looking ferocious as usual. Jon was literally floored the first time he saw Drogon, but this time he appears to be standing his ground.

Jon Snow S7E5 preview Game of ThronesJon looks slightly concerned, but he doesn’t seem to be flinching. HBO

This is a huge moment for many “Game of Thrones” fans. More than anything, Jon interacting with Drogon will be thrilling for viewers at home who know the truth of his parentage. Jon’s real father is Rhaegar Targaryen (the now-deceased older brother of Daenerys). 

Since Targaryens are known to have a type of “connection” with dragons, seeing the half-Targaryen Jon Snow get some personal time with Drogon could be really special. 

Some people even wonder if Jon will ride one of Daenerys’ dragons before the end of the series. One of her dragons, Rhaegal, is named after Jon’s father. 

Anytime a character meets a dragon for the first time, you know it’s going to be great. Tyrion’s scene with the dragons was one of the most surprisingly touching scenes of the sixth season. 

Tyrion Lannister and Dragon Game of ThronesTyrion’s meeting with Rhaegal and Viserion was incredible. HBO

This is also bound to be another Jon and Daenerys scene with a lot of emotional charge. Their cave scene on “Spoils of War” was full of subtle sexual tension, and we can expect that electricity to ramp up more as the series continues.

Jon advised Daenerys against using her dragons to burn “cities and castles,” and she decided to ride Drogon to meet the Lannister army in the fields outside King’s Landing instead. His reaction to this choice will be interesting to see, given how he’d rather she rode Drogon north to help him fight the White Walkers.



‘Game Of Thrones’ Fans Think They Spotted A Long-Dead Character In The Latest Episode

Before the seventh season of Game of Thrones premiered, author George R.R. Martin was asked about his least favorite book-to-show changes. “I think one of the biggest ones would probably be when they made the decision not to bring Catelyn Stark back as Lady Stoneheart,” he said. “That was probably the first major diversion of the show from the books and, you know, I argued against that, and [David Benioff and Dan Weiss] made that decision.”

The delayed arrival of Lady Stoneheart (think: Zombie Catelyn Stark) has become an in-joke among Game of Thrones viewers, but it’s extremely unlikely she’ll appear on the show. There was a point last season where it might have made sense, but no dice (instead, we got Lem Lemoncloak giving a familiar speech). That hasn’t stopped some fans from searching for Catelyn, though.


If you watch the sparring scene in [season seven episode four, “The Spoils of War”] between Arya and Brienne, when Arya asks, “Didn’t you vow to serve both my MOTHER’s daughters?” – at the word MOTHER you can see a woman in a long green dress w/ long auburn wavy hair with her head down walking past the background gate, resembling Cat. If it’s unintentional, it’s awesome. If not, more awesome. Catelyn cheking on Brienne keeping her vows.

Is that Catelyn Stark? I mean, I guess it could be, but I’m going to say: no. If you look hard enough at this scene, you can find a CleganeBowl clue, though.


‘Game Of Thrones’ Fans Think They Spotted A Long-Dead Character In The Latest Episode