A lot of animals got harmed during the making of The Hobbit, according to… er… the people responsible for keeping them from dying.
The good news is that this will not be Mondo Hobbit: No animals were killed during the actual filming of the movie.
Unfortunately, the same can not be said for where the animals were kept, which appears to be the horse version of Motel Hell:
The Associated Press spoke to four wranglers who said the farm near Wellington was unsuitable for horses because it was peppered with bluffs, sinkholes and broken-down fencing. They said they repeatedly raised concerns about the farm with their superiors and the production company, owned by Warner Bros., but it continued to be used. They say they want their story aired publicly now to prevent similar deaths in the future.
Honestly, if you don’t want to spend the day kind of hating humanity and angry at pretty much everybody involved in the movie, reading that full article linked above is a really bad idea.
So if the American Humane Association actually gave this thing a “No Animals Were Harmed”, how did this sneak under the radar? It turns out that the AHA only looks at on-set conditions: For all they know, once the animals leave the set at the end of the movie, they’re dumped at a rest stop.
Leaving aside the usual attention-whoring (why, yes, PETA is planning to picket, how’d you guess?), it does seem there will be some forward motion in guaranteeing animal safety off the set on films.
None of which makes this any less depressing, but at least it won’t happen again, either because of improved safety standards in the future or because they’re out of books to film. Really, what are they going to do? Shoot The Silmarillion?