Heller told Den of Geek in a 2020 interview, “Most films, and even TV, is planning for battle. Planning for a big TV series like [‘Rome’] is like planning for war, for a campaign. It’s invading Russia.” McKidd said of the budget in the same interview, “Ours, it was the first time anybody had tried this, so we just had to spend the money. And I think they figured out, it seems, ways to do it smarter or for less … because our show came out of the gate just huge and bawdy and big, and unapologetic.”
While the “Rome” first season budget is dwarfed by the $465 million for season 1 of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” the latter aired almost two decades later. “Rome” just wasn’t sustainable in its time. The set alone spanned five acres and six sound stages. They recreated the Forum, and it was shockingly close to the real thing. Every detail was heavily researched and poured over, from the fact that the statues were painted as they would have been at the time to the gritty Roman streets.
McKidd added that another issue was Italian production business practices, at least at the Cinecittà studio (which has served as the setting for films like “Roman Holiday” and “Gangs of New York”), which has been around since the time of Mussolini. He explained, “I heard enough to know [about] the scaffolding. I don’t know how many tons of scaffolding was used to build that set, but I remember one of the earlier conversations was, ‘We need to buy this much scaffolding.’ And the people at Cinecittà were like, ‘You can’t buy that much scaffolding, but you can rent it from my brother.'”