The old saying goes that you can’t go home again, nor is it possible to capture lightning in a bottle twice. But both Warner Bros. and Peter Jackson have somewhat defied the odds when it comes to their epic J.R.R. Tolkien films. “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy booked over $3 billion worldwide, earned an armload of Oscars, won over fans everywhere and became nothing short of the premiere fantasy series of all time. So it was a no-brainer when after a difficult development process which saw Guillermo del Toro leave the project, Jackson and Warner Bros. would try and make magic happen again. And so far it has worked, but has come at a cost.
As Variety reveals, “The Hobbit” trilogy has already cost approximately $561 million dollars (not including marketing), counting 266 days of filming but not two months of pick-ups that happened this year. It’s a significant rise compared to the relatively paltry $281 million spent on ‘LOTR’ as a whole. So where is that money going? Apparently, the decision to shoot in higher frame rates and 3D “added significant expense,” but that can’t be the only reason, can it? We’d wager the protracted development while MGM was on the brink of bankruptcy probably didn’t help the bottom line either. And maybe the catering tables got better.
But regardless, that money will be made back. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” took home over $1 billion worldwide and that’s with decidedly mixed reviews. And unless something goes horribly wrong, it’s a safe bet “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” will do similar, if not bigger numbers. At the end of the day, it’s money well spent for Warner Bros., who again have found a way for Middle Earth to pay off big.