According to reports, the “House of the Dragon” budget per episode has been released, and it follows in the footsteps of Game of Thrones’ early success. Following the events of Game of Thrones, “House of the Dragon” will attempt to recapture what made the original HBO program so popular while avoiding the issues that created such controversy with its conclusion. Only time will tell if the first of many planned Game of Thrones spinoffs is up to the task, but the early indicators are promising.
“House of the Dragon” has been mostly kept under wraps by HBO, but from the teaser trailer to the first look photographs, there’s a strong sense that the characters and environment are being brought to life in a magnificent way once again. “House of the Dragon” will be distinct from Game of Thrones in many ways; it is, after all, set about 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, implying a considerably different Westeros and a greater concentration on House Targaryen, whose civil war forms the plot’s core. Still, it borrows from its parent program, with Game of Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik serving as co-showrunner (with Ryan Condal) and composer Ramin Djawadi returning to compose the score, as well as George R.R. Martin co-creating the show (again with Condal).
Another resemblance is the per-episode budget of “House of the Dragon”. According to reports, each installment will cost under $20 million, a substantial sum that has been described as lower than it could have been, especially when considering that Stranger Things season 4 episodes are said to cost around $30 million each and Lord Of The Rings: The Rings of Power season 1 has a budget of $465 million. The idea of “House of the Dragon” starting small aligns with HBO’s approach to Game of Thrones season 1, which had a budget of roughly $6 million each episode that it used very creatively and to its advantage, before increasing to around $15 million for season 8 and putting on a much greater spectacle. It’s possible that “House of the Dragon” will do something similar.
In comparison to most of the other seasons, Game of Thrones season 1 did not contain any huge war sequences; instead, key moments such as The Battle of the Whispering Wood, which may have been much bigger in a later season, were primarily played out offscreen. That worked, though, because it was an inventive way of telling the story that didn’t detract from its impact, and “House of the Dragon” season 1, while it won’t have to hold back to the same extent – $15-20 million allows for a lot more – means it can still be creative and then build over time, assuming it’s renewed.
“Blackwater” from Game of Thrones season 2 was incredible not only because it was a wonderful feat and a great story, but also because it was the show’s first real example of stretching its budget to the point where it seemed like a well-deserved payoff, and it allowed it to raise the standard. “House of the Dragon’s” civil war won’t start properly until season 2, which is when the real dragon action should start, so it can have the same kind of escalation and, presumably, a much larger budget around seasons 2 and 3, when dragons will not only be flying, but also fighting one another, and there will be a real sense of that civil war at play.
Of course, it’s owing to Game of Thrones that “House of the Dragon” won’t have to spend as much money, as the report notes that the team’s experience allows them to “produce a high-quality series as efficiently and effectively as feasible.” Still, it’s a strong sign of faith that HBO is giving the Game of Thrones spinoff the funding it needs, rather than simply depending on the show’s success. Instead, HBO is expanding on what has worked in the past.