Middle Earth is evidently moving.
While things have been looking up for "The Hobbit" in recent weeks, a green light from Warner Bros./MGM, an agreed-upon deal for Peter Jackson (which will no doubt make him eminently wealthier), and tentative casting news, it's apparently bad news for New Zealanders and its economy. Peter Jackson told the New Zealand press today that preparations are being made to move the $500-million dollar "The Hobbit" production out of the country. Despite the fact that the stalemate and blacklisting of the actors' unions in New Zealand was lifted last night, Jackson felt that the move "does nothing to help the film stay in New Zealand."
"The damage inflicted on our film industry by [the actors unions] is long since done," he and screenwriter Fran Walsh told the Dominion Post. According to the article, Jackson and Walsh said the unions' stance had undermined Warner Bros.' confidence in the industry "and they are now, quite rightly, very concerned about the security of their $500m investment. Next week Warners are coming down to New Zealand to make arrangements to move the production offshore. It appears we cannot make films in our own country even when substantial financing is available."
Evidently, Jackson and co. will fight to keep the film in New Zealand, but the final decision will rest with Warner Bros. Is Jackson using this opportunity to scold the unions and SAG for advising its members to not accept work on the film? Last night in Wellington, throngs of marchers and filmworkers chanted "Save The Hobbit" and waved banners, reading "Keep it Made in New Zealand" and "SOS Hobbits."
Canada, The U.S., Scotland and Ireland have all evidently tried to land "The Hobbit" production if it does leave New Zealand.