No One Knows How Much Peter Jackson's New 'Hobbit' Film Will Cost

The new entry into a surprising trilogy gets a
green light -- even with a mystery budget.

The original deal to make two Hobbit movies was
undoubtedly one of the most complicated in
Hollywood history, with an array of players
including Warner Bros., New Line, MGM and other
rights holders. Warners chairman and CEO Barry
Meyer is said to have told associates that never in
his 40-plus years in the business had there been
more meetings in pursuit of a project.
So, clearly, organizing a third Hobbit film in a
matter of weeks was not going to be simple. Still,
once director Peter Jackson and collaborators
Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens decided that
three movies was the preferred approach, the deal
announced July 30 came together fast.
"If anybody had been a big hindrance, it wouldn't
have happened," says a source with ties to the
movies. "It was such a short window of time to
make this decision, if anybody had said no, it would
have been two movies."
Previously, the budget for the two movies was
estimated, probably conservatively, at $500
million. A source says the production cost of the
third could run between half and two-thirds as much
as one of the other two films thanks to work that's
already been done. (Marketing No. 3 will add to the
total.) But the final cost is not yet known because
the studio is awaiting a full script for the third
Jackson says shooting of "essentially every page of
script" of the first two Hobbit films is completed.
Cast and crew always were set to return to
Jackson's facilities in Wellington, New Zealand, in
June to finish "a few pickups to complete some
battle stuff." That now will be extended to a few
more weeks of additional shooting.
"There's some areas of the story to develop and
expand," Jackson says. The second movie, The
Hobbit: There and Back Again, is set for December
2013, and the third film will be slotted into summer


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