With a total budget of $561 million (and climbing), Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy — the second installment opens this December — is the most expensive movie-making endeavor ever. Although, it should be pointed out that the first movie has already brought in more than one billion dollars for Warner Bros., the distributor of all three films.
Financial documents disclosed in New Zealand, where the trilogy was shot—just like the much cheaper $281 million Lord of the Rings trilogy—shows that incredible sum has already been spent on The Hobbit, and does not include additional shoots or any further post-production work needed on the last two films. The second movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (below) is scheduled for a December 13 release; the final installment, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, will be in theaters a year later.
The Hobbit movies are easily the most expensive production cycle ever, outpacing the pair of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, which reportedly topped $500 million to create. Overall, Jackson’s team spent 266 days filming with actors, and the Associated Press reports that his decision to shoot in both 3-D and at 48 frames per second upped the price tag on the production.