Ciaran Hinds as Cesar and Kevin McKidd as a Centurion in Rome
Movies - TV
Why HBO Canceled Rome After Just Two Seasons
Bruno Heller, the co-creator of “Rome,” which ran on HBO from 2005-2007, explained to Den of Geek why the memorable historical drama series was canceled after only two seasons.
“Rome” was the most expensive series on TV during its run with a $100 million budget for Season 1, which resulted in a stunning, elaborate set that uncannily matched Ancient Rome.
The set spanned five acres and six sound stages and even recreated the Forum. Every detail was heavily researched, including statues that were painted with historical accuracy.
“Rome” star Kevin McKidd said, “It was the first time anybody had tried this, so we just had to spend the money. [...] Our show came out of the gate just huge and bawdy and big.”
Making an epic TV series with a massive budget proved to be unsustainable at the time, as Heller said, “I think [HBO] figured out, it seems, ways to do it smarter or for less.”
McKidd also cited questionable Italian production business practices for building sets at the Cinecittà studio, which has been around since the time of Mussolini.
The actor shared, “‘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.’”
The show was canceled deep into pre-production for Season 2, forcing Heller to restructure what was going to be a five-season story arc and pack it all into a single season.
An Entertainment Weekly article revealed that HBO execs privately expressed regret over the cancellation. However, “Rome” paved the way for epic HBO series like “Game of Thrones.”
Heller concluded, “The mistakes we made are the mistakes ‘Game of Thrones’ learned from. [...] We were making it up as we went along instead [of] having those wonderful books.”