'The Hobbit''s Reported $500M Budget May Make It The Most Expensive Movie Production Ever

Peter JacksonLet's go over the preliminaries: We're ridiculously excited that after what seems like the longest process ever there is finally (sort of) some forward momentum on "The Hobbit." But an article posted by New Zealand Herald News said the films, which are being shot back-to-back and are still awaiting an official green light, are expected to cost in the $500 million price range.

That would make it the most expensive movie production of all time, beating out even "Avatar" and the two "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequels (which hold the record with a combined price tag of $450 mil) for the title. Will all that money make for better flicks, though? Or will Peter Jackson's insane budget garner the same result his monetary freedom on "King Kong" did? To make a quick comparison, "King Kong" cost $207 million to make and grossed $550 million worldwide, while all three "Lord of the Rings" films cost $285 million cumulatively and made $2.9 billion worldwide. Chew on that.

Yes, in "Avatar's" case, big budget meant big payoff. But James Cameron also spent more than a decade creating the technology to film his dream project in 3-D, and the film subsequently blew the minds of people worldwide and made 3-D all the rage in Hollywood. And, though I could be proved wrong, I have a feeling that is not what has kept "The Hobbit" in development for the past seven years.

We already know that "The Hobbit" is set to be filmed in 3-D, so it can be assumed that a decent amount of the estimated budget is going to be used to make that seamless and beautiful. Plus, with all the legal disputes occurring in New Zealand over production of the film, there are bound to be some increased monetary requirements coming into these two films' productions.

But does more money automatically mean a better movie? The answer is a resounding no, and I'd argue that more often than not the smaller the budget the better the quality of the film. Look at "At World's End" or "King Kong" for proof of that, and then throw them up against films like "District 9" and even the other "Lord of the Rings" films that performed well and were critically well-received despite having smaller budgets. Fox lucked out with "Avatar" (if luck is the right word to describe a Cameron flick), but now every studio seems willing to throw buckets of money away to try to replicate that success.

I've always been a bit biased against larger-budget blockbusters because my concern is that the focus is taken away from creating a quality film and instead, as is likely to be the case with "The Hobbit," on creating quality effects. Still, there are plenty of elements in the story that could really thrive off a seemingly limitless budget. At least we can (hopefully) be promised a killer Smaug and some great casting.

So, now that you've heard my opinion, sound off on yours below: Does "The Hobbit" really need the $500 million budget, and do you think that will make it a better film?