Game of Thrones pay raise rumor dismissed by Liam Cunningham

Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) in Season 7 / Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO

Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) in Season 7 / Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO

Recently, reports came in claiming Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau had signed new contracts for the final two seasons, with each of these Game of Thrones stars earning over $2.5 million per episode — a new world record. Though the allegation was unconfirmed, it did make a certain amount of sense, considering the show’s popularity and the money HBO must be making out of it. Nonetheless, according to Liam Cunningham, there’s little to no truth to it!

The Irish Independent spoke to their countryman to get the real story behind these unverified reports — and the real story seems to be there is no story at all. Apparently, it’s so much of a fantasy that Cunningham finds the idea quite laughable:

“What?! You think Game of Thrones works like a pensionable job in the civil service? Where the last men standing get the most money? It doesn’t!”, the actor exclaimed with his usual wit. “Every time I see a new figure thrown around —€1m per episode, €2m per episode— I burst me ribs laughing. My bank manager is having a good laugh at it, too.”

Cunningham went on to explain these estimations might have been so off-base because they did not take into account the show isn’t actually produced in the US: “It is not filmed in the States; if you had an American deal, there would be a lot more ‘residuals’ so you can’t compare shows that are filmed here to shows that are filmed over there.”

“And if what they are saying is true – that the top 10 stars are getting €2m per episode – then that means it’s costing €20m an episode before you even buy one costume or write one word of script.” Though those aren’t the specifics of the original report (it wasn’t the top 10 actors), his point still stands. That amount of money, as well as the many other expenses of the cast and crew and the production, may be unfeasible, even for HBO and Game of Thrones. Or, as Cunningham put it: “That’s more than Star Wars!”

However the new contracts look like, they will probably include a percentage of syndication payments, as it has also been reported. Game of Thrones is an amazingly popular show, repeatedly broadcasted all around the world, so the cast may not get $2.5 million per episode, but I’m sure it’s not an inadequate amount of money either.

38 responses

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    1. Jack Bauer 24,

      They won’t go hungry, will they. Game of Thrones is making them comfortably rich, even if that’s not Hollywood rich, which is another standard entirely 😉

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    2. why would Liam know the details of other higher tier actors contracts?
      he’s either jealous of those amounts(cause he’s not getting anything close). or he just wants publicity which is worse.

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    3. Found this on another blog – thought fans of GOT might enjoy it, it’s a trailer for a fan made film. Apparently the short film is being released today on You Tube. (I hope it’s okay that I post it here?)

      Twenty years before the events of a Game of Thrones. The Wild Wolf follows the story of Brandon Stark, heir to Winterfell, who rides to Riverrun to answer Petyr Baelish’s challenge for Catelyn Tully’s hand in marriage.

      The trailer is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOwSaPXsqEc&feature=youtu.be

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    4. don:
      why would Liam know the details of other higher tier actors contracts?
      he’s either jealous of those amounts(cause he’s not getting anything close). or he just wants publicity which is worse.

      Don’t know what’s going on there, but there is no reason whatsoever that Liam would be aware of the particulars of that contract negotiation unless the actors involved divulged the details of the contracts to the rest of the cast, which sounds unlikely if the details of that contract are accurate. The figures involved were leaked by reliable industry sources that have reported on contract details in other TV shows and movies, so I don’t think there is any particular reason to think they’re inaccurate…

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    5. The Hollywood reporter said last year that the top 5 are making $1.1 million per episode so they’re still making a LOT of money.

      My guess is with residuals it probably ends up being 1.5 mill per ep which is a lot more reasonable than 2.5 mill per ep

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    6. George,

      Yes I can’t imagine Emilia, kit, peter, Lena and nik discussing something like that while drinking wine with other cast members at a party or something lol

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    7. I think Laim is right, this is not Star Wars, and even those principals don’t break the bank on initial pay, tho they may make a kings ransom on percentage, which I am guess they all take.
      Taking a percentage can be a risk or a boon, Sandra Bullock took less to make Gravity, but the eventual residual made her 70 million!
      (Wonder what George Clooney got?)

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    8. don,

      That’s very rude of you to say that and also unfair to Liam,who’s been one of the nicest guys and the most fun among the cast members . What’s with all the assholes in the fandom lately,im starting to notice it more and more,this wasn’t the case years ago .

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    9. well, there are just 7/6 episodes for the final seasons… not around 25 like friends.
      so 2.5 mill is not unreasonable.
      (please don’t mind my grammar)

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    10. Well…Star Wars isn’t exactly hiring big names for lots of money. The franchise will make money regardless of what actors are hired. The majority of their cast is made up of mostly young unknown actors, who Disney doesn’t have to pay as much as they would a veteran. The only exception is the original trio (Luke, Han, Leia), who are indispensable just like the A-tier cast on GoT is. I’m pretty sure the A-tier cast on GoT made more money for season 7 (or even for one episode of season 7) than Daisy Ridley made just for filming The Force Awakens.

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    11. I am ready to watch a new extended Season 7 trailer and I hope it’s posted soon!!!!!!!!!!!

      HBO is making the fans experience what it feels like to be tortured with the long break between season 6 and season 7… and no season 7 trailer yet;-)

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    12. firstone:
      I am ready to watch a new extended Season 7 trailer and I hope it’s posted soon!!!!!!!!!!!

      HBO is making the fans experience what it feels like to be tortured with the long break between season 6 and season 7… and no season 7 trailer yet;-)

      Been over a year since Season 6 premiered.

      First Season 6 trailer came out March 9th and the premiere was April 25th. So 47 days before the premiere. That would put us right at March 31st this time.

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    13. Yeah, I can well believe what Liam says. The series is not filmed in the US even although being an HBO production.

      I thought those pay increases were OTT and seems that is so. However, I reckon all the actors, even the lower tier ones, are now millionaires and must be grateful to HBO/GoT for that 😉

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    14. Jack Bauer 24: Been over a year since Season 6 premiered.

      First Season 6 trailer came out March 9th and the premiere was April 25th. So 47 days before the premiere. That would put us right at March 31st this time.

      /HBO has already put out pictures and a teaser trailer so I hope the 60 episodes of GOT/60 days to go until the season 7 premier will be a good day to watch the season 7 trailer… Wednesday May 17th

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    15. I’ve been saying this all along. No way can they afford to pay $12M to 5 people before they even do ANYTHING else with the episode. Not possible. $500K each, MAYBE.

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    16. HotPinkLipstick,

      Sad there’s no RR 🙁 . I get the reasoning, but I was hoping for it because I have basic taste lol. Maybe there’s a small chance we’ll get Dance of Dragons. I hope it’s not Aegon’s Conquest though.

      Nonetheless, I’m intrigued. Seems like they might be moving away from Westeros.

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    17. HotPinkLipstick: Winds is not done.

      Thanks for reference.

      Disappointed but not surprised that time is being spent on new initiatives rather than ASoIaF.

      And speaking of GRRM working on four anthologies, we fans should create a fifth anthology that contains entries for every idea every fan ever had about the contents of volumes six, seven and the probably necessary volume eight so that each reader can choose from among the ideas and create his and her own personal version of the conclusion to ASoIaF and the reveals.

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    18. kathy,

      Good,sorry for those that wanted RR but i just don’t want a rehash story with most of the characters from GOT albeit in younger version and also a story that we mostly already know . Oh and also yay to no sequel

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    19. I’m actually not going to watch any GoT spinoff that doesn’t involve the existing characters. After all this time, GRRM’s universe has lost the magic for me. I want to finish out this story and be done with it. No new character will grip me the way these have.

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    20. HotPinkLipstick: After all this time, GRRM’s universe has lost the magic for me.

      I feel the waning interest. Loss of enthusiasm is the result of stretching out the story and denying reveals beyond the breaking point. Between GRRM not completing ASoIaF and GoT delaying shortened seasons and focusing more on huge scenes than personal relationships, the eagerness for story moving to its conclusion dries up.

      GRRM and GoT are taking the risk that the fans are timing out.

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    21. HotPinkLipstick: I’m actually not going to watch any GoT spinoff that doesn’t involve the existing characters.

      Another risk you take as a viewer is that, if you become invested in the story, you may never know the development and resolution because the writers will not complete and you will know disappointment yet again. Failure to complete another GRRM story would just compound the misery. Time to move on to works that have a beginning, middle, and ending.

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    22. Unfortunately, this experience has burned me on unfinished series. I want to know there will be an ending before I invest my time and money. Only if the first book doesn’t sell, there probably won’t be a second or a third.

      Marlana,

      If Winds came out in 2019, after the series has finished, I’d probably shrug, buy it, and it would take me six months to get around to reading it.

      George has let the world-building overcome the story. It wasn’t the world that drew me in. It was the characters.

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    23. HotPinkLipstick,

      Lol at GRRM saying that he will have dunk and egg done as a show when he finishes the remiaining seven eight books …which means we are never going to see the series unfold on a screen.

      My only hope and wish is that we get to know everything from what happened at summer hall and events of RR in winds of winter itself ..
      And the winds gets released by next June ..

      He is smart enough to keep writing fire and blood which he himself calls as GRRmarilliion
      ..I though he will only work on those when the series is finished

      After all this time, GRRM’s universe has lost the magic for me. I want to finish out this story and be done with it. No new character will grip me the way these have.

      Yes exactly you will be surprised to know how many people are like this at this point who just want an ending and get it over with…
      The show has been a let down as well In that department and we can only view it as a good entertainment for now…like I said in another thread we may get to know the ending by this October if we have lads like person again

      Marlana: Time to move on to works that have a beginning, middle, and ending.

      The biggest thing that ASoIaf as taught me was never ever again pick up a unfinished series

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    24. Ryan: No way can they afford to pay $12M to 5 people before they even do ANYTHING else…

      Although I find it crazy that people are getting paid that much, please read Time-Warner’s annual report (2016 10K) filed with the SEC earlier this year. HBO has 49million subscribers (as of 2016/12/31) that brought in $5.003B last year. DvD/Bluerays made an extra $900m. So HBO made $5.9B for Time-Warner in 2016 (TW as a whole made $29B). After almost $4B in expenses (salaries, overhead, tech, dragon food, etc.), HBO reported $1.9B in income. Damn good business to be in and the actors’ agents know it.

      [and it’s why they can afford to fund 5 exploratory ASoI&F-related projects]
      [if TWoI&F material is being discussed, Linda and Elio have a large paycheck coming as well]
      [I wonder who the other ASoI&F-related pilot writer is? Cogman? Dave Hill?
      BryndenBFish? Adam Feldman? Marc Kleinhenz?]

        Quote  Reply

    25. dragonbringer,

      The show hasn’t been a let down at all for me. It’s been amazing at bringing everything to life. Flat, dull characters like some (I’ll not mention specifics because I don’t want to derail into that argument) have really come to life on screen.

      I wasn’t enamoured or enthralled with the books until the show came into existence.

      I feel like I know everything I need or want to know about Robert’s Rebellion. I just don’t care about the Lyanna/Rhaegar story. Either she is a beautiful tortured Mary Sue and he is an evil prophecy driven ass or they are two horrible, selfish, careless people. Either way, I just don’t care. All that matters is that they created Jon, be it in love or not.

      Maybe if I got to know Lyanna, Rhaegar, Elia, young Robert, via a visual media, I might care. But right now, I just don’t.

      I’m not surprised that many people are ready for the series to finish and let go. I’m surprised that people are so hyped for prequels.

      I do pity the new authors who will suffer because of how we’ve been burned by GRRM.

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    26. HotPinkLipstick,

      The show doesn’t care about characterization or continuity anymore ..they just jump from one plot point to other without giving us any more details ..and it has become more action oriented than plot driven Like in the early seasons ..I can name several characters even in the top 5 or 8 who has suffered by this

      When I mention RR I just don’t speak about RHaegar and lyanna. Iam sure we will know them from show …but I was talking about more like who actually is responsible for RR like varys,Maesters,northern conspiracy and aerys

      I think people are excited mainly because they thought it will be something that they wanted be it dunk and egg or RR or other stories that they have found interesting …and anything set in this world will be among the best shows at that time ..

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    27. don:
      why would Liam know the details of other higher tier actors contracts?
      he’s either jealous of those amounts(cause he’s not getting anything close). or he just wants publicity which is worse.

      Why wouldn’t he know? He’s friends with many of them. Pretty sure he isn’t getting a pittance, either. And publicity comes to him, he doesn’t need to seek it. ☺

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    28. don,

      Dinklage networth was evaluated at 10 millions $ last year.
      If he only has that much left after 60 episodes, either the figures are way, way wrong, or he’s wasting in all in booze and stuff?

      (And GoT isn’t his only source of income either).
      And I’ve looked up a few of them and Dinklage is actually the HIGHEST. The others have even lower (7 millions, 4 millions, 1.5 million… )

      Look up a few actors/actress who earned that much per episodes of different shows, they have networths in the HUNDRED+ millions.

      Dinklage was said to be earning 150k per episodes a long time ago. I’d say this figure is probably wayyyyy more accurate. I don’t deny they might’ve had a payrise now, but not a 1500% raise. Maybe the big stars of the show make 200k or 300k per episode now, something like that.

        Quote  Reply

    29. dragonbringer,

      I disagree with the entire premise of your argument regarding the show. In fact, I’m not even sure we are watching the same program. But it’s not worth my effort to engage further on the issue.

      As to Robert’s Rebellion, everything IS already in the text. It’s not that difficult to discern. I suppose it’s a matter of interpretive reading. My only remaining question about all of the events is “How much did Bran engineer?” And that question has only arisen since Bran’s story in Season 6.

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    30. dragonbringer: The biggest thing that ASoIaf as taught me was never ever again pick up a unfinished series

      The irony is that we are so disappointed because ASoIaF was gripping and held our interest. If the work was mediocre, we would not care that it is unfinished. The complaining about GRRM’s work habits is actually a compliment to ASoIaF.

        Quote  Reply

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