We’ve been told the Battle of the Bastards is Game of Thrones‘ biggest battle ever.
But how big is big, exactly? What went into making the upcoming Snow vs. Bolton face-off in episode 9 (the photos for which are getting us very excited)?
Here’s what it took to pull off the battle sequence in Sunday’s episode, which is directed by Miguel Sapochnik (“Hardhome”):
600 crew members
Crew can include everything from cameramen to prop masters to costume department.
The performers filled out the Snow and Bolton armies, playing wildlings, archers, swordsmen, spearmen, etc. The armies were trained separately to create a competitve off-screen rivalry that would hopefully then become apparent on camera during the fighting scenes. Visual effects were then used to expand the armies into the thousands.
160 tons of gravel
Heavy rain made the production’s field in Northern Ireland extremely muddy. Horses don’t like mud. So gravel had to be brought in to give the horses some traction. Which leads us to…
One of the most difficult aspects of making the battle. You typically only see horses in a war sequence nowadays in a major big-budget Hollywood film as the animals are notoriously difficult to coordinate — and quite expensive. Adding horses typically makes the process of shooting a scene take twice as long.
25 stuntmen and women
Somebody’s gotta fall off those horses and endure Kit Harington’s beatings.
25 shooting days
To get a sense of how long this is, most TV dramas are shot in 8-to-12 days. And that’s for a full episode, whereas Thrones spent 25 days on this battle sequence alone (the sequence isn’t all fighting — there’s some sideline drama as well).
4 camera crews
This one is pretty self explanatory.
How much did this episode cost? We don’t have an exact figure for you. But Thrones season 6 cost north of $10 million per episode and that’s considered very much an average – the price per hour varies and “BOB” is presumably the season’s most expensive episode. So go ahead and guess (and you might even be right).
Here’s one more number we’re wondering: How many major characters, if any, will perish? Tune into the BastardBowl on Sunday and then come to EW.com for full coverage.
Better yet: Pick up this week’s issue of EW, which goes behind the scenes of the battle in Northern Ireland, get the issue here.
The “Battle of the Bastards” episode has been heavily submitted by HBO for this year’s Emmys — here’s exactly which GoT actors and episodes were submitted for which categories. Check out BOB photos and the trailer here. And while you wait for Sunday, here’s our coverage of episode 8, “No One”: Read our deep-dive recap with our thoughts on the episode, plus our Q&A with Maisie Williams about Arya’s face-off with The Waif (hey, that’s a pun!), and our chat with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Gwendoline Christie talking about Jaime and Brienne’s touching reunion. Our latest Game of Thrones Weekly podcast episode is now live for “No One” too, subscribe now and listen below.