30 Oct 2010

Hobbit producers thank NZ for support

1:35 pm on 30 October 2010

The US backers of The Hobbit films have expressed gratitude to Prime Minister John Key over the deal they say helped enable them to keep the movies in their "proper home".

New Line Cinema, Warner Brothers and MGM Pictures released a statement on Saturday morning, thanking the Prime Minister, "his Cabinet and the other dedicated New Zealand officials".

It said their support and co-operation "helped assuage our concerns and enabled us to keep The Hobbit in its proper home of New Zealand."

"We'd also like to express very special appreciation to Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and the people of New Zealand for their tireless support of The Hobbit and their commitment to maintain and grow their vibrant film industry."

Mr Key last week negotiated a deal with the producers offering bigger subsidies to make the films and new labour legislation.

The Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill, clarifying the difference between an employee and an independent contractor in the film industry, was passed in Parliament under urgency on Friday.

The next stage of the deal is to finalise the extension of the type of expenditure the producers can claim against for tax purposes, which will result in extra subsidies of $US7.5 million per picture.

Filming is scheduled to begin in February next year.