Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, The Great Gatsby. When director Baz Luhrmann makes something, he doesn’t go for understated.
His new Netflix series, The Get Down is of the same ilk. It’s a big show, with an even bigger budget. The biggest Netflix has had so far, in fact.
Listen: Laura Brodnik and Monique Bowley discuss The Get Down, on this week’s episode of The Binge:
The Get Down tells the story of the birth of hip-hop in New York City’s South Bronx through the eyes of Ezekiel (Justice Smith). Ezekiel writes lyrics in the hope of winning the love of Mylene, a teen with dreams of being “the next Donna Summer”. The series also stars Jimmy Smits, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jaden Smith.
Ezekiel meets a rapper/graffiti artist named Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore), who takes him and his friends to the Get Down, an underground hip-hop club run by Grandmaster Flash (Mamoudou Athie). Yes, real-life characters do cross paths with the fictional ones.
And when the trailer came out, promising a mix of pop hits, original songs from artists like Nas, huge dance numbers, and a classic coming-of-age story, people were excited.
The hype grew when news broke about the show’s budget issues. The Get Down is officially Netflix’s most expensive television series. According to Variety, the show cost $120 million to produce.
I’ll let that sink in.
That’s $10 million dollars an episode, the same cost as the final season of Friends(which was largely putting those funds into cast fees).
It’s $30 million more than the budget of the show Marco Polo, which previously held the Netflix record.
The Get Down‘s original budget was set at $98 million. In the two-and-a-half years after Netflix bought the series, the production went through several showrunners, multiple writers, a cross-country move, and production delays.
Eventually, Lurhmann, who’d only planned on producing, took over as day-to-day showrunner, which made the budget balloon even more.