The series began development in January 2007. HBO acquired the television rights to the novels, with Benioff and Weiss as its executive producers, and Martin as a co-executive producer. The intention was for each novel to yield a season’s worth of episodes. Initially, Martin would write one episode per season while Benioff and Weiss would write the rest of the episodes. Jane Espenson and Bryan Cogman were later added to write one episode apiece the first season.
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The first and second drafts of the pilot script by Benioff and Weiss were submitted in August 2007 and June 2008, respectively. Although HBO liked both drafts, a pilot was not ordered until November 2008; the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike may have delayed the process. The pilot episode, “Winter Is Coming”, was first shot in 2009; after a poor reception in a private viewing, HBO demanded an extensive re-shoot (about 90 percent of the episode, with cast and directorial changes).
The pilot reportedly cost HBO US$5–10 million to produce, while the first season’s budget was estimated at $50–60 million. In the second season, the series received a 15-percent budget increase for the climactic battle in “Blackwater” (which had an $8 million budget).Between 2012 and 2015, the average budget per episode increased from $6 million to “at least” $8 million. The sixth-season budget was over $10 million per episode, for a season total of over $100 million and a series record.
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