A million dollars for a single episode? Do you have a source for that
Off the top of my head I can't point to anything official from the creators mouth source to point to, especially since its been a couple years now since Avatar was a hot topic and old stories and threads are harder to find, but its a number that gets used consistently when Avatar is talked about in reviews and such, and while its possible its just an urban myth, its used pretty consistently, and it sounds right to me as thats actually a pretty common ammount for tv shows per episode, though it is a bit high for a half hour animation.
Scripted shows tend to go anywhere from 1-5 million.
Some examples, and these can be attributed through google and things)
Studio 60 cost 2.5 mill an episode, and I think West Wing before it was crazy, like 3.5 mill per episode. (of course, those were hour shows with high profile actors and sets lots of camera works and scripting etc.) By the end of its run, Friends was getting all 6 cast members 1 million an ep, or.. 6 million dollars before anything else was done. Frasier got 1.6 mill an episode just for the star. As Simpsons enters the 20th season, each of the 6 main voice actors are getting paid 400,000 per episode. So, a current episode of Simpsons, before any writing or animating is done, now costs 2.4 million just for the main 6 actors. Thats scary.
Those are of course, long running hugely successful live shows,(with the abnormality of Simpsons on there) thats mostly just to make the point that a lot of money gets thrown around behind the scenes, numbers always seem crazy high for production of a show when we hear them.
To point towards actual animated stuff that I can back, The new Clone Wars cgi cartoon costs 1 mill an episode, (and I think I read somewhere 2 million per ep because I remember it being obscene, but I may have just imagined that) and apparently its Lucas' intention to take it for 100 episodes. (I know, CGI, different beast. But still.)
A number I know for sure is that Gargoyles cost half a million an episode back in 94 (and thats from the creator, I can source that if look for a bit) and Avatar is 15 years later money, with extremely high quality animation much of the time.
Afro Samurai was made for 1 million an episode, there was a lot of booha about that too, since most Japanese animated series cost just about $20,000 per episode, but once you start going into frame rate and quality level and such, and the fact it was a limited 5 episode series, etc etc. [/hide]
American animated quality stuff costs a fair bit. (which is also why so much american animation sucks now, cause its done on the cheap and looks like, and is written like, crap.) And part of that is just sheerly the price tag spread over the course of paying salaries for the 8-12 months it takes to produce an episode. I'm sure some eps of Avatar cost more than others or certain sequences, fluid actioney fights are harder and take longer and whatnot. It seems pretty insane for that kind of money to go into 20 minutes of animation, but, thats the frequently reported ammount.
i've also heard that Pixar films cost a million dollars per minute, which sounds feasible, but insane at the same time too.
Hollywood works in crazy numbers.