Just How Much Went Into The Biggest Battle In 'Game Of Thrones' History?

Short answer: a lot.

HBO's crown jewel Game of Thrones had high expectations entering season 6, but as promised, it's delivered plenty of high-stakes drama and shocking reveals thus far. With plenty of hype surrounding the ninth episode, "Battle of the Bastards," though, it's clear the most climactic moments are still to come. Entertainment Weekly published an exclusive look at the numbers behind what's being called the show's "biggest battle ever," and the time, manpower, and horsepower it took to film the sequence is astounding.

For starters, the battle required 600 crew members, four camera crews, and 25 days of shooting. Let's put that in perspective: an entire episode of most TV dramas is shot over seven to 10 days. Because the budget for Game of Thrones was somewhere around $10 million per episode on average, it's probably safe to say "Battle of the Bastards" drove that mean up, not down.

GameofThrones via YouTube
GameofThrones via YouTube

As for the humans (and non-humans) in front of the cameras? Apparently 500 extras filled out both armies, trained offscreen separately as archers, swordsmen, spearmen, and more to create an authentic rivalry onscreen. Seventy real horses were also part of the action, an extremely time-consuming addition to the process due to the difficulty of coordinating them. (Not to mention the 160 tons of gravel carted in to make the muddy fields easier to navigate.) After the scenes were shot, visual effects were used in post-production to expand the army numbers into the thousands.

For good measure, 25 stuntmen and women were also invited to the party to capture the very difficult yet necessary acts of falling off horses, making gruesome deaths look realistic, and so on.

Add up all the numbers, and it's no surprise that "Battle of the Bastards" has been aggressively entered into consideration for the Emmys. HBO dished out the money and wants to reap the rewards. When the biggest battle of TV's biggest drama (in terms of scale) plays out on Sunday, we'll see if the investment was worth it. Surely everyone involved is cool, calm, and collected. Not a sweaty palm or twitchy leg in sight. 

GameofThrones via YouTube
GameofThrones via YouTube