More good news for The Hobbit. Following last week’s greenlight the New Zealand actors union, who previously told their members not to take roles in the The Hobbit movies following a dispute over contracts for wages and working conditions, has announced that they will no longer be boycotting the production. But will it be enough for Warner Bros. to keep The Hobbit in New Zealand?
Mere hours before the union announcement director Peter Jackson issued another statement suggesting the movies could be filmed elsewhere. From Variety:
“Next week Warner Bros. is coming down to New Zealand to make arrangements to move the production off-shore,” Jackson said in a joint release with Fran Walsh, with whom he is producing the two “Hobbit” films.
Jackson said the dispute with actors’ unions has “undermined Warner Brothers’ confidence in New Zealand as a stable employment environment,” and that the studio is “very concerned about the security of their $500 million investment.” In a separate interview with New Zealand National Radio, Walsh suggested the production could move to the same studio in the U.K. where the “Harry Potter” pics were shot.
“There is the Harry Potter studio there that they say would be perfect for us,” Walsh said.
So while it appears all the major obstacals holding The Hobbit up are now to one side, Warner Bros. has still to decide where the films will be shot. The union announcement was obviously a ploy to prevent the production shooting outside New Zealand, but can the original home of Middle Earth compete with more attractive tax breaks in places such as the UK or Eastern Europe?