The original trilogy reportedly cost $281 million to make. The Hobbit trilogy has cost $561 million… so far. That’s not including post-production on the third film or reshoots this past summer to extend the series into a trilogy.
And while the massive budgets for these movies might sound excessive, the first movie alone more than covered the cost. (Maybe not when you factor in marketing, but it’s surely close.) And there’re still two more movies to come. The Hobbit will turn a profit. So even if The Hobbit films don’t reach the critical heights of the original trilogy, Jackson’s new movies could still be one of the best decisions Warner Bros. has ever made.
This is extremely frustrating to me, despite how much I’m looking forward to the remaining two films in the trilogy. The first film simply failed, utterly and totally, to live up to the glory of The Lord of the Rings trilogy in my estimation. I know everyone has their own opinion, but for my part, even before knowing all the numbers, the bloat was plain to see up on the screen.
The problem is that Peter Jackson is riding on momentum. Yes, he is a good — nay great! — filmmaker. But like many good filmmakers, he needs someone to hold a tight leash on him and force him to focus his talents in the right way. To take that massive creativity and be creative in the right places. But, because Jackson was so massively successful with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, he pretty much has free reign now. He can do whatever the heck he wants to and that’s not always a good thing. There’s a lot of waste, a lot of spending money on the wrong things, and in the case of the first film, a lesser film because of it. Whether I will feel the same about the next two in this trilogy remains to be seen. But I haven’t seen any indication that things have changed.
So, its frustrating to me. Jackson has always gravitated toward the excesses of filmmaking. And having a tight reigning in on The Lord of the Rings trilogy was the key ingredient in the recipe for great filmmaking. He needs that tight leash again.