The Office Spent An Obscene Amount Of Money On One Scene
Jenna Fisher and Angela Kinsey explained on The Office Ladies podcast that Jim's Season 5 proposal scene cost an absurd $250,000 to shoot for 52-seconds of footage.
Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey spent years working together on NBC‘s hit sitcom The Office, and now, years after the series went off the air, they are the host of Office Ladies, a re-watch podcast perennially at the top of the streaming charts. While discussing the Season 5 premiere episode, “Weight Loss,” the pair shared that the first scene was the most expensive in the show’s history. The famous proposal scene, capping off Jim’s (John Krasinski) romance with Pam (Jenna Fischer), cost an astonishing $250,000 to shoot even though it was set at a gas station.
The 52-second scene was the most expensive to shoot for multiple reasons, from the location to the crew creating a fully stocked gas station and even the weather conditions required: driving rain. Instead of finding a gas station near a highway, Kyle Alexander, the location manager for the series, found a massive paved parking lot. The crew then built a loop around the set for cars to drive, built the frame for the gas station, and installed rainmakers.
During the podcast episode, Jenna Fischer revealed that they found out later that the parking lot was so big, so flat, and perfect because it was paved over a nuclear waste site. Unlike the famous John Wayne film The Conqueror, which was shot at a nuclear test site, the California parking lot was perfectly safe, but imagine proposing at a dump? Hold onto that as a fun piece of The Office trivia: Jim proposed at a nuclear waste site.
The gas station itself was only a building frame, and thankfully, the production didn’t stock a gas station for the outside shoot. Instead, all of the products seen in the window were one giant photo. A production designer created a massive inkjet printout on foam core that only looks like store shelves.
Though the end product is one of the best scenes in the show, the under a minute of screen time still required shooting remotely, building a car loop, erecting a building facade, creating a massive printout, setting up rainmakers, getting actual cars to drive by during the scene, and hours of editing for the perfect sound from the outdoor shoot. Fans would never know how much work goes into each scene of their favorite shows without the cast and crew pulling back the curtain.
One line of dialogue from Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) in Season 3’s “A Benihana Christmas” cost the show $60,000, still only a fraction of the proposal. When Michael sings, “I’ve got two tickets to paradise,” it was $60,000 to get the rights to the Eddie Money song. This unplanned expense resulted from a writer not realizing how expensive music rights could be or that they would be required to quote a lyric.
Other famous scenes, including Randall Park’s brief guest appearance pranking Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) as “Asian Jim,” were significantly cheaper to produce, but in the entire eight-year run of the show, the gas station proposal is one of the most emotional scenes. In under one minute, with a price tag of $250,000, it’s the single most expensive scene in the show’s run.