The Union Screws Over The Hobbit, Delaying It Even Further. Potentially Pushing Production To Eastern-Europe

As if it needed anymore set backs, the already heavily delayed Lord Of The Rings prequel The Hobbit is potentially facing another obstruction ahead with news surfacing of trouble with the International Federation of Actors issuing a statement for their members to not take parts in the Hobbit films due to problems with “non-union contracts” taking place. 

Saying in a statement: Members of Canadian Actors Equity, U.S. Actors Equity, the Screen Actors Guild, UK Actors Equity, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (Australia) and the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists are advised not to accept work on this non-union production. If you are contacted to be engaged on The Hobbit please notify your union immediately…

Basically it means that if your not in the union and your a out of work actor then you shouldn’t be allowed to be in the film, and if your in the union and you are a down on your-luck actor you don’t need this job. Which is total bullshit, unions think that they can bully big-time directors into a corner and twist them around there fingers simply because they are easy targets in the public eye — but unlucky for them they won’t be taking producer and previous trilogy director Sir Peter Jackson lying down. 
A member of three unions himself, Jackson supports the majority of the unions cited in the very dis-loyal message to there members. They are also saying that the producers of The Hobbit have refused negotiations to hash out a deal with them, which seems highly unlikely as Jackson has been known for his resolve and communicative productions — but still the union is urging members to turn down offers for the film. 
Which is not only very sadistic for the production itself and bad for the actors themselves, and not that great for us the fans. Does The Hobbit need anymore hold backs? Well Jackson has hit-back at threats from union instructing there members to not take part in the film, countering there threats saying he may shift production from New Zealand to Eastern-europe. A move that would alter the New Zealand film business drastically, something that would make many New Zealand residents very unhappy — including me. 
A movement begun by the New Zealand Actors’ Equity and its umbrella The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance headquartered, has begun a feud between the two sides of the film industry — the actors and makers of the films. The New Zealand Actors’ Equity is looking to meet with Jackson and studios MGM, Three Foot Seven, and Warner Brothers to hopefully come to a formal agreement. But it seems Jackson wants to do anyhting but. Lashing out at the unions saying in a public reply:

Personally speaking, I’m not anti-Union in the slightest. I’m a very proud and loyal member of three Hollywood Unions – the Directors Guild, the Producers Guild and the Writers Guild. I support the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). All these organisations (I must confess I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between a “Guild” and a “Union”) do terrific work on behalf of their members.

For the Hobbit, Warner Brothers have agreed to create a separate pot of profit participation, which will be divided up amongst non-SAG actors who are cast in the film. This was not done because of any pressure from Guilds or Unions – it was actually Warners doing the decent thing, and New Zealand and Australian actors will be the principle beneficiaries.

We have done better in recent years, with attracting overseas movies — and the Australians would like a greater slice of the pie, which begins with them using The Hobbit to gain control of our film industry. There is a twisted logic to seeing NZ humiliated on the world stage, by losing the Hobbit to Eastern Europe. Warners would take a financial hit that would cause other studios to steer clear of New Zealand.

Seriously, if the Hobbit goes east (Eastern Europe in fact) — look forward to a long dry big budget movie drought in this country.

You can read the full reply here from Jackson over at Deadline. The main idea to get from his reply is that he is calling their bluff and threatening a change in location, which puts it at a stalemate for both parties. I would hate to see a change in location, because as as a resident of NZ, to see such a disappointing change would only hinder our reputation in film. The last thing we need is another asset leaving the clutches of NZ. 

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