According to financial documents published in New Zealand, the trilogy of films telling Tolkein’s classic fantasy tale have reached a cost of over £460m – with the final few months of spending still not included
Peter Jackson’s trilogy of Hobbit films, currently heading towards its climax with the release of The Battle of the Five Armies in December, has been named as the most expensive film production of all time, at 934m New Zealand dollars (£464m).
The figure was disclosed in financial documents filed in New Zealand, where the films were made, with their studio Warner Bros refusing to comment on the expenditure. The films were shot back-to-back in a giant single production, generating the record amount – the most expensive single film remains Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which cost around £185m.
Warner Bros recouped £75m of the costs in tax breaks from the New Zealand government, who have also tempted James Cameron to make his upcoming Avatar sequels in the country with the incentives. A memo between 20th Century Fox, Cameron’s production company Lightstorm and the New Zealand government showed there would be at least £250m spent on the filming and visual effects in the country.
The financial reports for the Hobbit, for a separate company set up by the studio to run the film, only go up to March of this year, meaning there could be further costs that drive the figure up further come 2015. It’s not clear whether marketing costs are included.
To that end, director Peter Jackson has begun the promotion on the final film in the trilogy, posting up a series of character images to his Facebook page last week. Meanwhile, in newly released footage from behind-the-scenes on the second film, The Desolation of Smaug, Benedict Cumberbatch explains the difficulty of performing motion capture for the titular dragon. “You kind of have to … imagine yourself into a vast creature in a huge space when you’re really crawling about on a grey bit of carpet,” he says. “[Smaug’s] got a lot of personality. He’s not just a presence of animal — he’s got very wrong human emotions, avarice and venality and cruelty but also charm.”
This article was written by Ben Beaumont-Thomas, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 22nd October 2014 14.31 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010