Nothing small about $596m cost of 'The Hobbit' trilogy reports

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 $NZ676 million ($595.6 million), according to financial documents filed on 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 $US1 billion ($1.1 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 $NZ98 million to the trilogy through an incentive scheme designed to attract big budget movies to the country. Such schemes are common among US 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 $US300 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 $US450 million to $US525 million.

According to Box Office Mojo, Jackson's previous trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, cost a total $US281 million to make. The Star Wars prequel trilogy, meanwhile, cost $US343 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 did not immediately provide answers to a series of questions about the The Hobbit budget.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Trailer 2