The pilot of ABC's new series Pan Am was among the priciest of the new fall season. Sony Pictures Television spent an estimated $10 million shooting the episode, which was heavy on special effects and period costumes and details.
Sony Television president Steve Mosko told the New York Times that the high cost will pay off, “We’re not going to spend like drunken fools, but it needs to look a certain way for ABC to be happy and advertisers to be happy and deliver great results for Sony."
Another expensive pilot, Fox's Terra Nova, hits airwaves Monday. The time-traveling two-hour series intro from producer Steven Spielberg has been pegged at a price tag between $10 million and $20 million, a fee Fox brass argues will be amortized over the course of the show's first season.
Game of Thrones' April debut reportedly cost HBO between $5 million and $10 million, notes the Fiscal Times in its roundup of high-priced pilots. The publication reports that the series is now HBO's best-selling series abroad ever, with episodes fetching upwards of $2.5 million -- 50 percent higher than The Sopranos.
Another period drama at HBO, Boardwalk Empire, bowed in 2010 with an episode estimated to have cost $18 million. Martin Scorsese won the Emmy for outstanding directing for a drama series for the pilot episode.
The pilots for Fringe, Lost and CBS' Fugitive redux are also among TV's highest-priced pilots. 2008's Fringe bow cost $10 million, according to New York magazine, which noted that the price for J.J. Abrams' two-hour action episode was driven up by its high concept -- a flesh-eating virus wreaking havoc on an airplane -- and special effects. Abrams' two-hour Lost pilot in 2004 also cost within the $10-$14 million range.
The pilot for 2000's Fugitive cost CBS $6 million, notes the Fiscal Times.