The Live-Action Star Wars Show Will Reportedly Be Very Expensive

Someone’s gotta pay for all those spaceships.
Someone’s gotta pay for all those spaceships.
Image: Lucasfilm

Surprise: Turns out bringing the galaxy far, far away as we’ve seen it on the big screen for decades to a streaming service is going to require more than a few galactic credits.


As part of a larger report about Disney tapping Ricky Strauss, Walt Disney Studios’ current president of marketing, to manage its still incredibly nebulous (and untitled) streaming service planned to launch next year, the New York Times snuck in a brief little tidbit about Jon Favreau’s upcoming live-action Star Wars show, which will be set seven years after the climax of Return of the Jedi, a still mostly-unexplored period in the 30 years between the original Star Wars films and The Force Awakens.

Presented only as an offhand comment rather than an official reveal, the Times reports the Star Wars series will run for 10 episodes, with an estimated budget for the series clocking in at a hefty $100 million, or pretty much $10 million an episode. That would put the series as one of the priciest TV shows around in a world of rapidly-spiraling TV production costs, as prestige dramas become grander in the age of peak TV. For comparison, the $10 million an episode is on par with reports about the cost per episode of Game of Thrones’ penultimate season, although Variety reported last year that the final season’s six episodes will have an eye-watering budget of $15 million each. Dragons: they don’t come cheap!

And it’s not just cable TV shelling out that kind of money—Variety further reported that Netflix spent upwards of $8 million an episode on Stranger Things’ second season. Freaky Demogorgon monsters: they also don’t come cheap!

An allegedly massive budget for a Star Wars series makes sense—and not just from the production standpoint of needing tons of CG, lots of sets, and costuming additions like weird aliens, suits of armor, and all the other things that make Star Wars look like Star Wars. This is going to be the first live-action TV show in the Star Wars universe. Disney is going to want it to look as close to the films as it can, and as good as the films, so it’s probably more than worth splashing the money on it to entice fans to sign up for yet another streaming service. After all, a slick-looking Star Wars show is an ally as powerful as the Force itself.



I’m curious to see if this post-Game of Thrones trend of “8 to 9 figures-per-season” TV shows is sustainable. Television has recently been afforded more creative leeway than film because their budgets are so much smaller but they can still deliver compelling narratives. With these high budgets, will television studios become as risk averse as film studios? Or will demand for constant long-term engagement (something that movies don’t have to deal with because of their short runtimes) force the writers of these television shows to stay creative and keep them from becoming as homogenous as summer blockbusters?

We kind of already see Game of Thrones moving more into the realm of crowd pleasing spectacle over storytelling. I hope this isn’t how Lord of the Rings and Star Wars go.