Image via Wikipedia
The Hobbit films are to be made in New Zealand - but at what cost to New Zealand?
Prime Minister John Key made the announcement on Wednesday night, following two days of talks with Warner Bros executives in Wellington.
Mr Key said an agreement had been reached with the US studio which is financing the two films. They will be directed by Sir Peter Jackson.
The Government says it will introduce legislation in Parliament on Thursday to clarify the employment situation of independent contractors and employees as it relates to the film production industry in New Zealand. Now NZ legislation is to be influenced from outside NZ. Will China be next to influence change in other areas?
Warner Bros had warned its concerns over industrial relations issues in New Zealand could see it move the project to another country.
"The industrial issues that have arisen over the past several weeks have highlighted a significant set of concerns for the way in which the international film industry operates," Mr Key said.
"We will be moving to ensure that New Zealand law in this area is settled to give film producers like Warner Bros the confidence they need to produce their films in this country."
Mr Key confirmed the Government will widen the qualifying criteria for its Large Budget Screen Production Fund "to improve New Zealand's competitiveness as a film destination for large budget films."
The Hobbit films will receive an extra tax rebate of $US7.5 million each, depending on box office takings, he said.
The Government will also offset $US10 million of the films' promotion by Warner Bros as part of a strategic partnership to publicise New Zealand.
One of the films will have its world premiere in New Zealand.
Peter Jackson's credibilty has been changed for ever in this country. Since I have lost all respect for him I will refuse to refer him as Sir, in much the same way as I refuse to refer to Roger Douglas as Sir, too! Jackson's claims that a 'gun was held to his head' is exaggerated claptrap.
There is no doubting Jackson's brilliance as a film-maker, but he has nailed his political affiliation to the rightwing National Party mast. The National Government won't be in power for too much longer Mr Jackson; it could well be next year as there are signs that the tide is going out for them. Really, it all depends on Phil Goff's performance as opposition leader in coming months. He would never change legislation as Key has done to allow employees to become contractors in a New Zealand context. That is something I'm certain about.
Acknowledgements: © 2010, Radio New Zealand