‘The Hobbit’ Trilogy: The Desolation of Half a Billion Dollars

By  · Published on October 7th, 2013

‘The Hobbit’ Trilogy: The Desolation of Half a Billion Dollars

Though the hobbits are a simple folk who are content staying in their shire and enjoying a meal or five, it turns out creating that shire costs a fortune. According to Variety, The Hobbit trilogy has already cost approximately $561m, marketing not included. That figure includes the 266 days of filming completed this year, but not the additional two months of pick-ups or post-production costs for the last two films. Lordy.

To put it in perspective, Peter Jackson spent $281m total on the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. But Jackson and Warner Bros. are considering the Hobbit money well spent; the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, made $1 billion in theaters worldwide despite the decidely mixed reviews, and it’s likely that the second film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, will do just as well, or even better. It has a Benedict Cumberbatch dragon – how could it not? (Check out the trailer here.)

So what comprises half a billion dollars here? Jackson’s decision to shoot in both higher frame rates (48 rather than standard 24) and 3D in the hopes of providing better clarity for audiences added a “significant expense.” It also provided many viewers with headaches and really doesn’t seem like it should be highlighted as the only thing driving up production costs. Of course, staffing a small army of crew members and then costuming/styling (and paying) another boatload of actors adds some more expenses. Then pile on CGI and I think we have something close to the figures shown.

Despite the large trilogy price tag, none of the Hobbit films are the single most expensive movie ever made. That prize goes to The Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End with $300 million.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is in theaters December 13th, and The Hobbit: There and Back Again is due in theaters December 2014.

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