…okay, well, granted, 500 million clams is a fat stack of cash.

While it’s a detail that should surprise no one, the New Zealand Herald is reporting that the current budget for The Hobbit has ballooned to something around $500m, along with $100m in accumulated fees. That would be super-duper impressive except, last I heard, there were still two sweeping 3D epics being shot to follow up one of the most successful trilogies of all time. A quarter-of-a-billion dollars on a film of this kind is, frankly, barely noteworthy these days.

While the overall budget, even with all of the right-holders being bought-off and appeased, is on the heftier side of expected, the $100 million dollars in legal fees is much more indicative of the trouble that has marked this production. Legal problems, ongoing union spats, departing directors, bankrupt studios… Peter Jackson was long-ago made into gaunt man from the stress of his passion projects- I hope we don’t need to fear for his health all over again.

The good news from all of this is that all signs are pointing to an impending greenlight that will end this seemingly Sisyphean pre-production and finally send The Hobbit in front of cameras.