14 months ago the New Zealand Herald reported via news.com.au that Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit — a two-part prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy that began filming last March — “is expected to cost $500 million (US) and has already racked up legal fees believed to exceed $100 million.

“The most expensive movie to date was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which cost $300 million (US),” the story continued. “The soaring Hobbit costs are mostly due to settlements with rights holders, whose wrangles with Warner Bros/New Line Cinema could have delayed shooting for another decade.

Pic will star Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield and Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug. Several actors from Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy will reprise their roles, including Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom.