While the NZ Equity and MEAA have decided Peter Jackson and The Hobbit production can film in New Zealand and that they are in fact treating workers fairly, Jackson and Warner Bros. have decided that they don’t want to work around the groups demands and public outings of the films production, instead announcing today that they will be abandoning New Zealand and shooting “off shore.”
Here’s the Press Release Jackson released:
The lifting of the blacklist on The Hobbit does nothing to help the films stay in New Zealand. The damage inflicted on our film industry by NZ Equity/MEAA is long since done.
Next week Warners are coming down to NZ to make arrangements to move the production off-shore. It appears we now cannot make films in our own country – even when substantial financing is available.
The spectacle of NZ Actors’ Equity suddenly cancelling their Wellington meeting, because film workers wanted to express to them their concern at losing The Hobbit, exemplifies the pure gutlessness of this small, self-centered group. They don’t appear to care about the repercussions of their actions on others, nor are they prepared to take responsibility for decisions made in their name. [There’s much more, but you get the idea.]
Filming is suppose to begin in four months, which means Jackson must scout new locations, hire new workers and secure all necessary permits, it’s not impossible, but it won’t be a joy ride for Jackson or Warner Bros.
Personally, I’m fine with Jackson’s decision, some studies in the U.S. now charge upwards of $15 to $20 per ticket, in some cases those numbers are 100% higher than they were just a few short years ago, the cost of shooting movies has skyrocketed and many of these unions are the reason behind the huge jump in production costs, along with new technologies of course.
Whether you agree or not with Jackson and Warner Bros. decision, it’s hard to deny that the unions in this case acted carelessly, did they not realize the production could simply be moved? It will be interesting to see how New Zealand’s film industry tries to recover from this huge loss.