You have to spend money to make money. Warner Bros. is figuring that lesson out, for while Pete Jackson’s first film in the Hobbit trilogy certainly banked a healthy amount of cash, the series already has cost the studio more than the entire Lord of the Rings series did several years ago.

These figures come to us via The AP, which reports that costs on the Hobbit franchise have reached “more than a half billion dollars so far,” or double the amount of money spent on the three Rings movies. The AP goes on to report:
"That figure includes the major 266 days of filming with actors that was completed last year, although it doesn't include an additional two months or so of ‘pick-up’ shoots done this year. There will likely also be additional post-production costs as the next two movies are completed.”

Wow, even more costs on the way? That should make the executives at Warner panic. However, there are so many reasons tied to the Hobbit/LOTR franchise that can (and should) ease their collective mind. For starters, An Unexpected Journey banked a wonderful $303 million domestically, and crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide. The studio has to believe that the next two Hobbit movies also will cross those marks, and so simple math explains that spending half a billion dollars to earn back close to (or maybe more than) $3 billion makes sense to anyone.

Even Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies provide multiple ancillary avenues from which the studio can – and will – make more money. Lots of money. DVDs and Blu-rays, in particular, are profit-generating opportunities for Warners, especially when Jackson finally is able to unveil the full Middle-earth collection, and fans can own them as a complete set. I imagine Warner Home Video already is mapping out a release plan for a six-movie Hobbit/LOTR box set that will allow Tolkien fans the chance to have all of them in one collection.

The AP story goes on to note how much money Jackson and his crew have raised for New Zealand … because that money has to have been spent somewhere, right? But really, the article raises an interesting conversation point as the director and his studio begin to build interest in the second chapter in the trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. We saw a new trailer for the fantasy epic recently, and you can find it below. Will Jackson’s fans pick up this baton and ensure that the director’s second Tolkien trilogy earns back every penny spent? It's very ikely. Find out as the trilogy continues on December 13th.

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