Hobbit Bosses Still Plan To Quit New Zealand
Movie bosses behind Peter Jackson's upcoming blockbuster The Hobbit have confirmed they still plan to move the shoot away from New Zealand in the wake of the dispute with actors' unions in the country.
Executives at New Zealand Actors Equity threw the production into jeopardy last month (Sep10) by instigating a boycott of the film over performers' rights, and the action was backed by unions in countries including the U.S. and U.K.
Director Jackson filmed all three Lord of the Rings pictures in the country, but he recently confirmed he was looking into other locations for the prequel to avoid more trouble with the union.
The dispute appeared to have been resolved this week (beg18Oct10) when the New Zealand-based guild lifted the boycott, but Jackson insists relations with union bosses are still strained.
He says, "Lifting the blacklist does nothing to help the situation."
Executives at Warner Brothers confirm union chiefs are still making extra demands, so producers will continue to search for another place to film the new movie.
Warner Brothers spokeswoman Candice MCDonough says in a statement, "(The unions) continued to demand, as a condition of the retractions (of the boycott), that we participate in union negotiations with the independent contractor performers, negotiations which are illegal in the opinion of the New Zealand Attorney General.
"We have refused to do so, and will continue to refuse to do so. The actions of these unions have caused us substantial damage and disruption and forced us to consider other filming locations for the first time. Alternative locations are still being considered."
The movie, starring Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, will start shooting in February (11).