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Lord of the Rings movies: production costs and global box office revenue 2001-2017

The highest grossing movie in the ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy is ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’, which generated over 1.1 billion U.S. dollars in box office revenue worldwide. Second was ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ which made 1.02 billion at the global box office. All three ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movies performed impressively at the box office despite comparatively low production costs, with the third movie outperforming every other LOTR film including those in ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy.

‘The Lord of the Rings’: further information

‘The Lord of the Rings’ is a fantasy novel written by British author J. R. R. Tolkien, published in 1954. The book is highly regarded by children, adults and scholars alike and has found its way into schools and universities across the globe.

The first movie adaptation of Tolkien’s written work came in the form of 2001 epic ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’, directed by Peter Jackson and featuring some of Hollywood’s best talent including Liv Tyler, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen and Sean Bean to name just a few.

‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ was met with critical acclaim and made over 870 million U.S. dollars at box offices worldwide. Despite the movie’s grand scale, spectacular shooting locations and detailed mise-en-scène, production costs amounted to just 93 million U.S. dollars.

Whilst to anyone outside of the film industry this amount of money may sound incredible, in the movie business this is a relatively small budget by today’s standards. Production costs for movies can reach over 300 million U.S. dollars – the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and ‘Avengers’ films are notorious for being expensive to make. ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ cost 250 million to produce, but high production costs do not always translate into impressive revenues (the movie grossed just 255.12 million dollars at the North American box office).

‘The Hobbit’ films in general are a hotly contested topic among fans for their use of CGI and divided opinions about Tolkien’s shortest LOTR book having been adapted into three separate films.

Production costs and global box office revenue of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies from 2001 to 2017

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Release date

August 2017



Survey time period

2001 to 2017

Special properties

as of August 2017

Supplementary notes

* The source does not show production cost.
The figures have been rounded.

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