28 Sep 2010

Warners looking elsewhere for Hobbit locations

5:16 pm on 28 September 2010

The American studio financing the making of the Hobbit films says it is exploring alternative locations for filming, in light of the row over actors' pay and conditions.

An Australian-based union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), is urging performers worldwide to boycott working on the movie until the producers enter a collective bargaining agreement.

Warners Brothers released a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying it believes allegations made by the union are baseless and unfair to executive producer Sir Peter Jackson and his team in Wellington.

It says motion picture production requires certainty that a production can proceed without disruption and that its general policy is to avoid filming in locations where there's potential for workforce uncertainty.

Because of that policy, Warners says, it's now exploring all other options in order to protect its business interests.

Sir Peter has already warned that production might be moved to Eastern Europe if the dispute is not settled.

Meeting sought 'for a month'

Earlier, New Zealand Actors Equity, which is allied with MEAA, said it has been trying for a month to meet producers to discuss working conditions for local actors on The Hobbit.

Actors Equity says the organisation has no interest in jeopardising the production but wants to know that local actors working on The Hobbit will have fair contracts.

The British actors union, Equity, is backing the move by actors to try to secure union-endorsed contracts

Assistant general secretary Martin Brown says the actors will be contributing to two potentially successful films and it is only fair they receive their correct share.

Local actors meet on Tuesday night in Auckland to discuss the issue.