'Hobbit' To Stay in NZ – By Gov. Action
Not only will Peter Jackson two film adaption of THE HOBBIT stay in New Zealand, the trouble over the production has lead to the government passing a new law to ensure that the situation does not arrise again.
According to Variety, the month-long fight and boycott by several actors’ unions against the film has led New Zealand’s parliament to pass what the press is calling the “Hobbit Law”. This ammendment to an existing Employment Relations Bill makes it law that “actors and other film production personnel hired as independent contractors can not subsequently claim to be employees.” This would prevent them to claiming additional rights and entitlements granted to regular employees.
The unions had called for an actors’ boycott of THE HOBBIT, beginning September 24th, against the already troubled production in order to pressure them into making a deal with NZ Equity that would have substantially changed arrangements. This lead to Jackson and Warner Brothers making serious plans to move the $500 Million project to another country.
Realizing the studio was in earnest, the boycott was lifted last week, amid counter protests by other film trade workers, but it seemed the damage had been done. It apparently took the intervention and assurances by New Zealand’s Prime Minster to convince Warner Brothers (now financing the project begun by New Line and the bankrupt MGM) to keep the production in the country.