Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 10/5/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Making The Hobbit movie trilogy has cost more than half a billion dollars so far, double the amount spent on The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
That figure includes the major shoots with actors, although there will likely be additional post-production costs as the next two movies are completed.
Through March 31, production had cost 676 million New Zealand dollars, or US$561 million at current exchange rates, according to financial documents filed Friday in New Zealand, where the movies are being made.
Distributor Warner Bros. and director Peter Jackson may consider it money well spent. To date, only the first movie in the latest trilogy has been released. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey took in just over $1 billion at the box office.
The documents, filed online by New Zealand's Companies Office, provide a rare insight into the exact costs of a blockbuster Hollywood production. Often studios release only rough estimates, if anything.
When making the trilogy, Warner Bros. created a wholly-owned New Zealand company it named 3 Foot 7 Ltd, in reference to the diminutive stature of the movie's hobbits and dwarves. Company documents show that New Zealand taxpayers have so far contributed NZ$98 million to the trilogy through an incentive scheme designed to attract big-budget movies to the country. Such schemes are common among U.S. states and foreign countries that compete for movies.
The trilogy also appears to be one of the most expensive movie productions in which two or more movies are shot at the same time.
Both Box Office Mojo and Guinness World Records estimate the most expensive single movie ever made was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End with an estimated $300 million production tag. That movie, in conjunction with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest -- which was shot at the same time -- held the previous record for the most expensive total production, costing an estimated $450 million to $525 million.
According to Box Office Mojo, Jackson's previous trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, cost a total $281 million to make. The Star Wars prequel trilogy, meanwhile, cost $343 million, according to Box Office Mojo, which tracks movie costs and box office receipts.
In making The Hobbit, New Zealand director Jackson chose to shoot both in 3D and at 48 frames per second, rather than the standard 24, in the hopes of giving audiences greater picture clarity and a more immersive experience. Both techniques added significant expense. The higher frames per second received mixed reviews, as did the movie itself, which starred Martin Freeman as the title character.
The trilogy is based on J.R.R. Tolkien's novel of the same name and traces the adventures of hobbit Bilbo Baggins as he attempts to help a group of dwarves regain their wealth and stature from the dragon Smaug. The Hobbit is the prequel to Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, which was made into a movie trilogy that was also directed by Jackson.
The second movie in the latest series, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is due out in December, while the final movie, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, is due out in December 2014.
Warner Bros. representatives this week replied to emails sent by The Associated Press but did not immediately provide answers to a series of questions about the The Hobbit budget.
-- The Associated Press
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 G12
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
'Birdman' director flies through fear
Paul Gross among Screenie honourees
Cost of making 'Hobbit' movies up to $745 million
'Fury' defeats 'Gone Girl' in box-office battle
Sale of Joan Fontaine's house to aid animal group
Juliette Binoche on '1,000 Times Good Night'
'Fury' blasts 'Gone Girl' from top of box office
Thicke celebrates his divorce
War movie paints realistic picture of combat
Foreign-language Oscar hope gets local première at film fest
Fans use the Force in sci-fi remake
'Easy Rider' chopper at auction might be phoney
Veteran stuntmen become directors with 'John Wick'
A heartwarming bromance for odd couple in Iceland
CIA cocaine conspiracy compelling
Keanu kills as John Wick
Latest Sparks adaptation doesn't veer from formula
Photos released from film being shot at CFB Shilo
Dazzling animated story turns dark into glorious light
Police: Body found near river could be actress
New film tells Holocaust story of Polanski ally
Polanski opens Paris musical based on Tate film
For Rogen, Hilarity charity is serious business
Review: 'White People' is edgy; has memorable cast
'Modern Family' actress Elizabeth Pena dies at 55
Warner/DC superheroes suiting up for big screen
New on DVD VOD
Web of wonder and woe
Pitt comfortable with oldest son seeing 'Fury'
Neil Patrick Harris says he'll host Oscars in 2015
'Citizen Marc' doc examines the Prince of Pot
Review: Michael Keaton soars in bracing 'Birdman'
William H. Macy on directing 'Rudderless'
College to pay writer $26,000 for rescinded invite
Review: 'Book of Life' celebrates death
New pics from Manitoba filming of war movie Hyena Road
Saldana, Luna talk Day of the Dead, 'Book of Life'