Peter Jackson‘s “The Hobbit” trilogy is one of the biggest box office hits of all time, and it’s also one of the most expensive film productions ever undertaken. With less than three months to go before the December opening of the final chapter in the epic Middle-Earth saga, financial documents filed in New Zealand this month put the production at $745 million.
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That figure makes it the most expensive film production on record, but it is a combined total for what amounts to three separate films. Guinness World Records estimates the most expensive production to date remains “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” with total production costs of $300 million.
Warner Bros. declined to comment on the costs, telling the Associated Press they don’t comment on production budgets.
According to Box Office Mojo, the first two “Hobbit” films have earned a combined $1.98 billion at the global box office, which gives the trilogy a real chance of breaking $3 billion. Jackson’s original “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy combined for a total $2.92 billion at the global box office from 2001-2003.
The financial documents create a rarity in big-budget Hollywood productions, as they are unusually detailed. Warner Bros. set up a wholly-owned company to handle the massive trilogy’s production, leading to public financial reports.
The latest documents include breaking out $122 million that the films’ production received from local taxpayers. Tax incentives are common in the U.S. and other major countries as ways to lure big-budget films that generally provide a regional economic stimulus during production.
The final chapter in the film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” stars Martin Freeman, Evangeline Lilly, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellan and Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the dragon, Smaug.
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is scheduled to hit theaters Dec. 17.