The Grand Tour, a new motoring show from ex-Top Gear trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, reportedly cost Amazon around $250 million, according to Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.
While earlier reports had said Amazon paid around £160 million ($200 million), Sarandos told The Telegraph: “That’s an under-reported number. It was about a quarter of a billion dollars. We’ll be able to figure out later what it was that made the show the show. It’ll be interesting with [The] Grand Tour to see how much of that is the players, who in many cases are big personalities, but what elements of Top Gear will people miss?”
Sarandos revealed that Netflix was in the running, but didn’t break the bank because they “knew what it was worth”. “We made a play for that show, definitely,” he added. “But we’ve had every season of Top Gear on Netflix in most territories in the world, so we had a better sense than most of what the audience was for Top Gear on our platform. We knew what it was worth.”
While it’s easy to think that all of that money went directly into production, meaning Amazon will have spent $7 million (£5.6 million) per episode for a 36-episode contract, that’s not usually how it works. For instance, the opening sequence of the first episode reportedly cost £2.5 million ($3.1 million) on its own.
Meanwhile, The Grand Tour’s executive producer Andy Wilman has blasted the £4 million per episode figure that had been circulating around before, let alone a new £5.6 million figure. "That figure is nonsense,” Wilman told BBC Radio 4 in an interview. “It was reported in the papers and it's stuck there for good now. It's not true. It's lower than that.”
When pressed on whether it was more than what BBC spent on Top Gear (£1 million per episode), Wilman added: “It's more than that. Somewhere between £1 million and £4 million.”
Whatever the final cost, the show’s premiere has received praise from most corners, including us. The Grand Tour works fantastically, owing to the presence of the best part of Top Gear – its hosts, in Clarkson, Hammond, and May.
New episodes of the show will air Friday 12:01am GMT for the next three months on Amazon Video, with the service going global in over 200 countries and territories next month.