HBO’s The Last of Us TV adaptation is said to have a budget that “well exceeds the eight-figure per episode mark,” likely making it “the largest project shooting in Canada.”
Damian Petti, president of the IATSE 212 artists union, wouldn’t confirm the precise budget numbers for the project to CTV News, though he estimated each episode to be costing more than eight figures. At a minimum, the eight-figure sum would mean that it’s costing $10 million per episode but he indicates that it’s actually significantly more than that.
“I cannot confirm the official budget numbers but will say it is likely the largest project shooting in Canada,” he told the outlet. “This project well exceeds the eight-figure per episode mark, so there is a multiplier effect on our economy in terms of its impact. There are hundreds of related businesses benefitting from the plethora of work.”
“The Last of Us which commences photography this week is indeed a monster,” Petti added, confirming the show’s shooting schedule that launches in the Province of Alberta this month. “It has five art directors and employs an army of hundreds of technicians. It has had six months of prep and shoots (in Alberta) for 12 months.”
The Last of Us showrunner Craig Mazin previously revealed the HBO series will have a 10-episode first season, which means that Season 1 would be costing at least $100 million to make, though it’s likely to be even more than that given the budget for each individual episode is said to “well exceed” the eight-figure benchmark.
For comparison, Game of Thrones originally cost around $6 million per episode in its first season but ballooned to a comparable $15 million per episode for its final season. Likewise, the per-episode cost to make The Mandalorian reportedly reached close to $15 million, making the cost of a whole season nearly $120 million.
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The reason for the high price tags on upcoming shows, especially compared to the historic costs of television shows, is how these series are often packaged together with Hollywood blockbusters. There’s a feeling, particularly among streaming services, that TV shows can’t risk looking like “B-material” next to big movies, hence the comparable costs of production.
In addition to The Last of Us TV series, Sony is also currently working on an Uncharted movie, starring Tom Holland as Nathan Drake. The movie is set to hit theaters on February 18, 2022. PlayStation boss Jim Ryan has already stated that these two Naughty Dog adaptations are “just the beginning” of PlayStation’s efforts to expand into other mediums.
Adele Ankers is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow her on Twitter.