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The Hobbit movie under threat

2010-10-24 13:57
 

Wellington - New Zealand unions launched a desperate bid on Sunday to keep production of The Hobbit in New Zealand as they issued an unreserved assurance the movies would not be affected by industrial action.

Public opinion polls have overwhelmingly showed the unions are blamed by New Zealanders for the row that has threatened the $500m project.

Their "absolute assurance" of no disruption came as representatives from Warner Bros, the film's producers, prepared to make arrangements to move the production offshore because of concerns about industrial strife.

"I sincerely hope Warners accept that assurance," New Zealand Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said in a statement.

The bitter row over the prequel to the The Lord of the Rings trilogy erupted when the actors' union NZ Equity called for a global boycott of The Hobbit while they attempted to negotiate a minimum standards agreement.

Easing fears

Movie director Sir Peter Jackson refused, saying it would set an unacceptable industry precedent.

Much of the debate hinged on an obscure argument over whether workers on films such as The Hobbit are employees of the production company, which entitles them to minimum benefits, or independent contractors.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key stepped into the row last week saying the government would look at changing the law to clarify that actors were independent contractors if it would ease Warner's fears.

In her statement ON Sunday, union leader Kelly said the Screen Actors Guild has been advised to lift any international sanctions on The Hobbit and NZ Equity has confirmed there will be no action that will impact on production.

Warner Bros said in a statement last week that the boycott had already "caused us substantial damage and disruption and forced us to consider other filming locations".

Jackson has said Warner Bros representatives would be in New Zealand next week "to make arrangements to move the production offshore".

New Zealand provided a stunning location for The Lord of the Rings and Jackson said the country's NZ$3bn a year film industry would be devastated if The Hobbit moved elsewhere.

- AFP

Read more on:    the hobbit  |  the lord of the rings  |  movies

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