A story out of New Zealand declares that ‘The Hobbit’ will be the most expensive movie in history. It cites as a source The London Daily Telegraph which got its figure by saying “it was reported”. We tried to follow the trail and to the best of my knowledge the giant sum was first reported as a needed cash infusion for MGM as “production costs” but never was it said (as far as I can tell) to apply only to “The Hobbit.”
The article then confuses readers with references to Christopher Tolkien and the Tolkien estate threatening to pull the plug on the production. The difficulties with the Tolkien estate happened a few years ago in a lawsuit over profits from “The Lord of the Rings.”
New Line Cinema, the studio behind the LOTR film trilogy, is now owned by Warners and MGM owns 50% of the rights of the planned pair of films.
Official pre-production hasn’t started yet but much of the work has been done in “development,” which has been reported to have cost as much as $50M. These figures have not been verified.