Threat to move Hobbit was real, says Jackson
Tue, 27 Nov 2012 9:19a.m.
A day out from the world premiere of the first instalment in the Hobbit trilogy, director Sir Peter Jackson has revealed how close the movies came to being made outside New Zealand.
The film-maker said that at the height of a labour dispute between his production company and the actors' union there was a real danger the films would be moved offshore.
He said a box from Warner Bros arrived filled with a film scout's shots of locations in England and Scotland matching scenes in the screenplay.
"It was to convince us that we could easily just go over there and shoot the film," he told Radio New Zealand.
Sir Peter rejected the notion that the movie studio was bluffing in its threat to take the production abroad.
"They don't send someone around the UK with a camera for what must of taken them three or four weeks to compile all these photos - they were very, very serious."
The Government stepped into the row to change employment law to classify all film workers as contractors by default and also gave an extra subsidy of up to $US15 million per movie.
Sir Peter says it was imperative for New Zealand to ensure it was a financially viable environment for films to be made.
"Tax incentives are part of the film industry around the world.
"If New Zealand, no matter what Government is in charge of this country, if it wants to be in the business of making films, it's got to be aware of what other parts of the world, and American states are offering up as tax incentives ... if you want to be in the game you have be in the game."
Financial statements reveal Warner Bros subsidiary 3 Foot 7 has received $67.1 million in tax rebates over the last two years.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey reaped $46.9 million from New Zealand's large budget screen production grant in the 12 months ended March 31 after receiving $20.2m in 2011.
The movie has its world premiere in Wellington on Wednesday.
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28/11/2012 1:40:18 a.m.
@mike: Gee, man. You should ask the greedy Warner Brothers blackmailing gang or their beloved friend, Key, to give you a job as a 'Minister of spin, lies and propaganda'.
27/11/2012 10:32:07 p.m.
NZ actors guild were fronting indirectly for overseas bids, ie someone bought them a few drinks/diners and they were happy to blacklist NZ movie production. It was greedy unionists blackmailing everyone that caused the problem of NZ losing the Hobbit in the first place. Its greed like that of unions which loses jobs. The greed of the few almost lost us the Hobbit - and how would NZrs be better off with that?The reality is the increase in tax rebates to warner is actually quite small, around $15 mil more than what Labour had already signed NZ up for. Given we also get $10 mil in tourism advertising, its around $5 mil of net tax rebates. If not for the greed of the union, warner wouldn't have asked for or got the current round of extra rebates.Take the $460 mil in production costs, and most of that has been paid in wages to contractors and subject to PAYE which has seen the govt collect over $100 mil in tax already. Take Weta Digital, of 1100+ employeed, only 5 are actually employees, the rest contract for good money and do good jobs. Contracting regularly pays better, but also requires more performance than unions would tollerate. If a union directed Lord of the Rings it would have been less successful than 'Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!' as unions have the creativity of a 3 day corpse.Only someone with a brain smaller than a cockroach could think the govt giving $5 mil net tax rebate while raking in over $100 in PAYE is not good for NZ.
27/11/2012 1:23:31 p.m.
Key says that Peter Jackson is asking for 'more' subsidies and he is 'unlikely' to get it! The greed of the mega rich has no bounds, shame or decency.
27/11/2012 11:43:08 a.m.
Nevertheless. it is a shame and a disgrace that our nation's Labour laws were changed to accommodate the greedy blackmail from the Warner Bros gang.
27/11/2012 11:14:18 a.m.
NZ could have done with that tax break money. What was the financial benefit to NZ from having the film made here?
27/11/2012 11:09:08 a.m.
I don't buy Jackson's claims for an instant. It should have offended him, and every other decent New Zealander, that New Zealand actors, working on a film being made in New Zealand, by a New Zealander, weren't getting paid the same as the American actors. The New Zealand actors were doing exactly the same work, for exactly the same company, at exactly the same time as the American actors, and yet Jackson was quite content for them to get paid less.
I have absolutely no respect for the man - employers who don't give a damn about their workers aren't worth the time of day.
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