Posted on Friday, October 22nd, 2010 by Russ Fischer
The background story on The Hobbit has become even more strange than we would have ever expected. The MGM bankruptcy and long process required to get the film greenlit have given way to a bizarre situation in which a labor power struggle in New Zealand and Australia has given Warner Bros. new anxiety about shooting the films in New Zealand. The production may move to another country, possibly to the Leavesden Studios outside London.
We’ve read statements from Peter Jackson about the dispute, but now he has talked to a television show in New Zealand and his frustration with the production’s problems is impossible to disguise.
Peter Jackson and The Hobbit co-producer and co-writer Philippa Boyens spoke with TV New Zealand’s Mark Sainsbury, and you can see the clip below. How mad is the director about this situation? Well, he says this of Helen Kelly, the president of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions,
I’m trying to save my movie. She’s behaving like somebody who thinks she knows about filmmaking, she really hasn’t got a god damned clue…How dare you. You are choosing an Australian union over the workers of our country. Stuff her. I don’t care what the hell she says.
In case you’ve missed the last few weeks’ worth of controversy, here are the basics:
- The New Zealand Actors’ Equity (NZAE), a small performer’s union, is demanding negotiations to improve contracts for performers in New Zealand, specifically with respect to the payment of residuals.
- Actors’ Equity is controlled by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, an organization out of Australia.
- That Australian control has led to the first big point of friction — the NZAE is seen as being puppeteered by an organzation from another country, which might not have New Zealand’s best interests in mind.
- Those organizations together persuaded other unions like SAG and AFTRA to boycott The Hobbit.
- Despite the fact that the boycott was eventually called off, Warner Bros. is suspicious about shooting in New Zealand, and is exploring other options, with a decision expected next week.