The Hobbit film series is poised to be one of the highest grossing franchises of all time. And it better be considering how much Warner Bros has shelled out to make the trilogy: three times the cost of making Lord of the Rings.

Let us say that again: The Hobbit trilogy costs three times as much as the Lord of the Rings trilogy did.

The AP reports The Hobbit. trilogy's budget has come in as $745 million. This is frankly a shocking figure when you consider that back in 2007 it was estimated to cost $300 million. So, what happened? Well, for one thing that estimate was made when The Hobbit was being eyed as a two-part franchise. Since then, Peter Jackson pushed for a trilogy, and as such padded on some new characters, subplots, and complex action sequences. Understandably, the price tag rose from $150 million for two films.

But $745 million for three films? That still seems pretty steep, right? Well, let's remember that these films boast a heavy amount of visual effects, elaborate costumes, as well as expansive casts. And on top of all that, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies were also shot in the 48 frames per second, and in 3D. Do you hear that sound? It's the price of a budget skyrocketing.

Because Warner Bros set up a subsidiary company in New Zealand to produce The Hobbit movies, the annual financial reports have made the grand total of the films' production public knowledge. It's unclear how much--if any--of this total accounts for the extensive print and advertising campaigns that have been used to promote The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. But we'd be willing to wager that cost is counted elsewhere. Besides, the total figures wouldn't be in for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which is hitting theaters this winter on December 17th.

Let's say--for the sake of argument--that each of The Hobbit movies cost about $248 million apiece. That would make each of them the sixth most expensive film ever made. Coming in ahead of them: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ($250 mil), John Carter ($250 mil), Spider-Man 3 ($258 mill), Tangled ($260 mil), and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ($300 mil). And yet, Warner Bros. shouldn't be sweating this very, very high price tag.

First off, The Lord of the Rings trilogy pulled in $2.9 billion by the end of its run. Between its first two installments, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, this prequel trilogy has already amassed more than $2 billion dollars. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is expected to be a big fat hit this Christmas, and on top of all this Warner Bros. received $122 million back from New Zealand's tax payers thanks to the film incentive programs there.

Basically, it seems the studio behind the titular Halfling took a clever cue from Bilbo: go big, or go home!

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