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Top 10 Most Expensive Netflix Originals

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Being the dominant streaming video titan does not come cheap. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten most expensive Netflix originals For this list, we’ll be looking at ten of the most expensive Netflix originals. For the purposes of our ranking, we’ll only be including shows and specials that Netflix have exclusively distributed, so programs that aired on other networks before being picked up by Netflix will not be included. We also won’t be including Netflix original movies, so, say, “Bright” will not be included, despite its hefty $90 million price tag. We also won’t be including shows without a definitive budget, so “Altered Carbon” also won’t be on this list, despite looking incredibly expensive.
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Top 10 Most Expensive Netflix Originals

Being the dominant streaming video titan does not come cheap. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten most expensive Netflix originals



For this list, we’ll be looking at ten of the most expensive Netflix originals. For the purposes of our ranking, we’ll only be including shows and specials that Netflix have exclusively distributed, so programs that aired on other networks before being picked up by Netflix will not be included. We also won’t be including Netflix original movies, so, say, “Bright” will not be included, despite its hefty $90 million price tag. We also won’t be including shows without a definitive budget, so “Altered Carbon” also won’t be on this list, despite looking incredibly expensive.





#10: “The Defenders” (2017)




Airing various Marvel properties is quite expensive, although perhaps not quite as expensive as you may think. Variety reports that Netflix shelled out $200 million to produce their Marvel shows. This may sound like a lot of money, but you also have to consider that this covers “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” “Iron Fist,” and “The Defenders.” While the exact numbers are unknown, we can theorize that Netflix evenly spread the $200 million budget throughout all five shows, resulting in a $40 million price tag for each individual property. It’s a surprisingly small budget, especially when you consider that this money is stretched throughout thirteen hours’ worth of content.




#9: “Orange Is the New Black” (2013-)




And here we have a show well-worth its pricey investment. “Orange Is the New Black” was one of the first Netflix exclusives and is now their most watched original program. It is also one of their most critically successful, winning a boatload of Emmy, American Film Institute, and Peabody Awards. Variety revealed that each episode costs around $4 million to produce, or a grand total of about $50 million per season. And this was back in 2013! The price tag is undoubtedly higher now that the show has received such high acclaim. A three-time SAG award-winning ensemble doesn’t come cheap, you know.





#8: “House of Cards” (2013-18)




“House of Cards” was the first original dramatic content by Netflix, and what an introduction it was. Starring incredible actors such as Robin Wright and the now-disgraced Kevin Spacey, and produced and directed by David Fincher, “House of Cards” was a mega success that earned multiple accolades and put Netflix on the map. And, quite unsurprisingly, it came with a hefty budget. CAA agent Peter Micelli unveiled at a UCLA press conference that “House of Cards” initially cost Netflix $4.5 million an episode, or nearly $60 million a season. However, the budget understandably soared afterwards thanks to the numerous accolades and continued involvement of big-name actors and filmmakers.





#7: “Dave Chappelle: Equanimity & The Bird Revelation” (2017)




Dave Chappelle is clearly a hot commodity. Chappelle was at his peak in the mid-2000s with his massively successful sketch comedy program earning both immense popularity and critical acclaim. However, he eventually walked away from the show and all but disappeared from existence for a decade. He finally hosted “Saturday Night Live” in 2016 and returned to stand-up, via Netflix, after twelve years in 2017. And they paid the hilarious comedian a pretty penny for it, too. According to an insider, Netflix reportedly paid Chappelle $60 million for three exclusive stand-up specials. Now that is how you know that you’re in demand.





#6: “Stranger Things” (2016-)




Bringing the ‘80s to life in the 2010s, not to mention making convincing monsters and otherworldly dimensions, is not a cheap endeavor. The first season of their hit show cost Netflix $6 million an episode, or just under $50 million for the season. However, the show was a huge success, leading to an increased budget of $8 million per episode for the second season, or $72 million for all nine episodes. We think their investment was worth it. The show is now one of their biggest draws, it has garnered acclaim and accolades, and has made movie stars out of its young cast. We’d call that a success any day.



#5: “Jerry Before Seinfeld” (2017)




“Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” is not a Netflix original. In fact, it appeared on Sony’s Crackle for five years. However, it was part of a major exclusivity deal that Netflix signed with Seinfeld for an astounding $100 million. Included in the deal were the airing rights to “Comedians in Cars,” 24 new episodes of the show, and two exclusive stand-up specials, one of which, “Jerry Before Seinfeld,” was released in 2017. Netflix must see huge returns on their stand-up specials, because this is silly money. The only reason it isn’t higher is because we’re not sure how much money is allocated to each program, one of which is not a Netflix original.





#4: “Marco Polo” (2014-16)




While “Hemlock Grove” may have been Netflix’s first failure, “Marco Polo” is undoubtedly their biggest (and costliest). In 2014, Netflix tried taking a piece of the historical drama pie that “Game of Thrones” was dominating (yes, we know “Game of Thrones” is not actually historical). And they desperately wanted to succeed, so much so that they pumped a massive $90 million into the first ten episodes alone. This made it the second most expensive TV show in history, behind only its main competitor. However, the show failed to make the necessary ripples throughout popular culture (in fact, it was largely ignored), and it was cancelled after just two incredibly expensive seasons.





#3: “Sense8” (2015-18)




“Sense8” was Netflix’s big attempt at a science fiction epic. It contained a huge ensemble cast of characters and was created by the Wachowskis, the brilliant minds behind “The Matrix,” one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time. Unfortunately, the first season received little attention or critical appreciation, and the show was cancelled after just two seasons and a grand finale. And it’s not hard to see why. Each episode of the second season reportedly cost $9 million to produce, for an overall cost of roughly $108 million for the entire season. It’s incredibly hard to justify spending $100+ million on a show that very few people watch.



#2: “The Get Down” (2016-17)




“The Get Down” is one of Netflix’s most ambitious projects to date. Created by playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis and visionary director Baz Luhrmann, it tells the story of the rise of disco and hip-hop in 1970s New York. Unfortunately, the production process was plagued with difficulties, and the initial budget of $7.5 million per episode exponentially ballooned up to $120 million for the whole season. And that is with the state tax incentives factored in! Unfortunately, the show was a huge bomb and was swiftly cancelled. Luckily, Netflix has no regrets regarding the show, with the vice president of original content calling it “one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”





#1: “The Crown” (2016-)




Just taking one look at “The Crown” is enough to see why this is number one. Every facet of this show is exquisitely detailed and meticulously correct, from its first-rate actors to its stunning sets to its gorgeous costumes. It is extraordinary stuff to look at, and it understandably costs Netflix truckloads of cash. The first season alone reportedly cost an unbelievable $130 million, making it the most expensive TV show ever produced. Luckily, their investment proved fortuitous, as “The Crown” was enormously popular and critically acclaimed, especially for its acting and production design. Sometimes the massive investments DO pay off.

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