A dark cloud has been hanging over the production of Peter Jackson’s upcoming prequel, The Hobbit and this time it has nothing to do with MGM, (they’ve already given it the green light). We’re referring to the vocal opposition the director has received from actors and crew workers of his native New Zealand. They’ve been fighting to create a new industry standard for wages because the ones currently in place were deemed unfair.
Being that Jackson and his Wingnut Films are behind the biggest production in the country, they’ve become the obvious target of a boycott. But after an emergency meeting that took place Wednesday evening in Wellington, some new strides have been made and the unions have called off their dogs…
Richard Taylor who heads the Weta special effects company met with over 1000 technicians who took to the streets of Wellington to voice their concerns.
“Everyone gathered felt that they had done their part in assuring the New Zealand film industry that they care passionately about seeing the Hobbit made in New Zealand and that the industry as a whole should be left as it is for the successful and ongoing future of film making in New Zealand.Wellington film technicians want to be heard. They want to be represented in these very bizarre and strange events that are going on right now, said Taylor”
Their actions must have worked because according to a press release sent out by AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), New Zealand members are now welcome to accept work from The Hobbit.
AFTRA Members May Now Accept Work on The Hobbit
NZ Actors Equity today recommended that the international performer unions of FIA withdraw their respective member advisories prohibiting members from accepting employment on the theatrical motion picture The Hobbit.
In light of this advisory and the recommendation from NZ Actors Equity, AFTRA hereby notifies all members that they may now accept employment on The Hobbit, under Screen Actors Guild contract terms and conditions.
We thank you for your show of solidarity with our international brothers and sisters.
Even though the union has had a change of heart, it may be too late for them to change the minds of Warner Bros executives. Their actions have generated a lot of negative press for a film that’s already had its fair share of problems. Prior to their decision, Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh released this statement.
We will continue the fight to keep the film in NZ, but ultimately this decision belongs to Warner Bro’s. We are however, hugely heartened by the incredible show of support from Wellington actors, technicians and crew. It is a reflection of the terrific pride NZ film workers have in their industry and their very real fear of losing their jobs.
We’ll stay tuned to see how far this will go. Has Warner Bros been turned off by New Zealand or will they give the country a second chance? We’ll let you know as the updates roll in.
What do you think of the union’s decision to lift The Hobbit ban?