Who says you need a pilot to tell if something is going to be a hit? Well, a lot of networks, actually… but not HBO! Without so much as a teaser trailer, it’s been revealed that the streaming service is going all in on their adaptation of the critically-acclaimed video game series The Last of Us. Like, all in. During a recent event detailing Canada’s economic future, Alberta premier Jason Kenny revealed HBO intends to spend a whopping 200 million per season on The Last of Us. In addition, Kenny said the project could could last as many as eight seasons. For those of you keeping track at home, that makes for a grand total of 1.6 billion making the most realistic plant-headed zombies you’ll ever see.
While it’s hardly surprising the The Last of Us is shaping up to be the most largely invested in video game adaptation, comparing it’s budget to other HBO original series is pretty jaw-dropping. Assuming each season of The Last of Us sticks to HBO’s usual 8 to 10 episode format, that means the network plans to spend between 20-25 million per episode. Just to put this in perspective, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks’ The Pacific — which currently holds the title of most expensive HBO series — sits at a budget of 20 million per episode. The special effects-filled final season of Game of Thrones pales in comparison, with a budget of 15 million an episode. In addition, the sheer number of intended seasons is pretty astounding. If Kenny’s “as many as eight seasons” claim is true, it would make the show one of HBO’s longest running series that’s not related to sports or Bill Maher.
However, while all this might seem excessive (and let’s be real, it is), HBO investing into the apocalyptic tragedy might be what the studio needs to do to keep up with its competitors. Over at Amazon, the upcoming Lord of the Rings series has been given a budget of one billion dollars to spread out over the course of five seasons, resulting in 200 million spent per season as well. At Disney+, Marvel is forking over a staggering 25 million per episode to bring Loki, WandaVision, and all your favorite characters back to life. Only time will tell which of these shows pan out and keep the services up and streaming another day.