NZ may lose Hobbit filming over actor dispute

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“Unfortunately lifting the blacklist does nothing to help the situation,” the statement said.

Warner Bros. did not immediately comment on the situation.

Jackson denied being anti-union on TV One’s “Close Up” program Thursday.

“I’m in four unions,” he said, adding that “people have the right to have the best terms and conditions they possibly can.” The union boycott was “the actions of a few actors … who don’t honestly understand the repercussions of the situation.”

It was “absolute rubbish” to suggest the films were being deliberately moved away from New Zealand by the studios for financial reasons, he said in his first interview on the issue, noting it was being done “on sets … that are being built to shoot on. This is Gollum’s Cave, for God’s sake.”

“For the first time ever New Zealand actors were going to get some residuals (payments for spin-off products like DVDs and merchandise) on the Hobbit. They were going to get a share of the profits,” he said.

The pay row is the latest in a string of troubles to hit the project. In May, original director Guillermo Del Toro quit after two years of involvement citing production delays. Jackson, the New Zealander who was a key creative force behind the Rings movies, stepped in as director. Filming was due to begin in New Zealand in February.

It also caused upheaval within New Zealand’s film industry, which received a huge boost with the success of the Rings films and Jackson’s sudden rise in profile in Hollywood that came as a result.

Late Wednesday, more than 1,000 film technicians chanting “Save The Hobbit” and waving banners that said “SOS Hobbits” marched through the capital, Wellington, demanding actors end their dispute.

Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee said he had been told several other foreign-funded productions had put work on hold while they watch the outcome of “The Hobbit” dispute.

He said the government next week would meet with Warner Bros. and ask “how can we give … more certainty about things _ because they don’t trust the unions.”

After the huge success of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Jackson has spent the past three years working on adapting “The Hobbit.” Written before the Rings saga, the novel introduces key characters such as title character Bilbo Baggins, and first describes the elaborate world of dwarves, trolls, elves and monsters that both tales inhabit.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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