Peter Jackson beefin' with unions over The Hobbit

Senior Editor
09.27.10 14 Comments

An organization known as the International Federation of Actors (FIA) which represents actors in seven countries including the US, Australia, and Canada issued a statement recently telling its members not to take a role in The Hobbit, saying the contracts offer “no minimum guarantees of wages or working conditions, no payment for future broadcasts and no cancellation payments.”   The BBC picked up the story, calling it “the latest setback to the movie.”

Peter Jackson, not content to take the attacks lying down and stuffing his fat face full of chocolate, has fired back, releasing a statement whose length is rivaled only by its strongly-wordedness.  Here’s the gist:

The Australian Labour Union, the MEAA is using our production The Hobbit in an attempt to widen it’s [sic] membership, and power within the New Zealand film industry. As a New Zealand filmmaker, who has nothing to hide or be ashamed about, I’m not going to see this threatening behaviour continue without some form of sensible discussion about the “facts” and “truth” behind their various allegations.
I can’t see beyond the ugly spectre of an Australian bully-boy, using what he perceives as his weak Kiwi cousins to gain a foothold in this country’s film industry. They want greater membership, since they get to increase their bank balance.
The conspiracy theories are numerous, so take your pick: 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.

Oh, New Zealand, Australia’s Canada.  Inferiority/persecution complex aside, I do have to agree with the main thrust of Jackson’s argument (*hip thrusts*).  Clearly this is just a cry for attention from the FIA groups.  Given that The Hobbit hasn’t been greenlit, has no director, and can’t move forward until someone buys MGM, telling actors not to work on it is kind of like boycotting Friendster.

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