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The Hobbit

Entil'ZhaEntil'Zha I see famous people
7 Unions Tell Members Not to Work on The Hobbit

7 unions have told their members not to work for The Hobbit films in New Zealand. They claim that producers of the two films have refused to engage performers on union-negotiated agreements, though they do add that the situation can be resolved. The statement includes that the unions think the producers intend to make "imminent" offers to performers for the film.



  • ShadowDancerShadowDancer When I say, "Why aye, gadgie," in my heart I say, "Och aye, laddie." London, UK
    Oh for frak's sake!!! :mad::mad:

    I'm beginning to think the movie is jinxed! It seems the only people who actually want to see the movie made is the fans!
  • Entil'ZhaEntil'Zha I see famous people
    It it becoming Peter Jackson's "Man of La Mancha" He and Terry Gilliam should get together to commiserate.
  • WORFWORF The Burninator
    As I said on IRC, these films are fast becoming the Duke Nukem Forever of cinema.
  • Entil'ZhaEntil'Zha I see famous people
    And Peter Jackson's Response...


    Peter Jackson Responds to Unions About The Hobbit
    Source: Peter Jackson September 27, 2010

    Peter Jackson released the following statement in reaction to the seven unions that have told their members not to work for The Hobbit films in New Zealand. You can read what the unions sent to their members on Friday here.

    Here is Peter Jackson's statement:

    Statement regarding The Hobbit and claims by the Australian Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA):

    The Australian Labour Union, the MEAA is using our production The Hobbit in an attempt to widen it's 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.

    It's incredibly easy to wave the flag on behalf of workers and target the rich studios. It's not hard to generate an emotive response, nor is it hard to sway public opinion, since nobody seems to like the facts to get in the way of a good story in these situations.

    Behind the claims of exploiting actors who are cast in the "non-Union" Hobbit production, and claims that various high-profile stars will refuse to take part in the films, there are clear agendas at work. As usual with these agendas, they are based on money and power.

    I am not a lawyer, nor am I an expert in unions and how they operate - but I like to think I have a degree of common sense, and that's what I'm basing my observations on. Let me run over a few facts:

    -- Personally speaking, I'm not anti-Union in the slightest. I'm a very proud and loyal member of three Hollywood Unions - the Directors Guild, the Producers Guild and the Writers Guild. I support the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). All these organisations (I must confess I'm not entirely sure what the difference is between a "Guild" and a "Union") do terrific work on behalf of their members.

    -- Many Actors are members of SAG, but many are not -- especially younger actors and many Australian and New Zealand performers. MEAA claims we are "non-Union", but whenever we hire an actor who belongs to SAG, we always honour their working conditions, their minimum salary agreements and their residuals.

    -- The SAG residuals is a small pot of money that comes from the movie's profits. The DGA and WGA have similar schemes. An agreed upon percentage of movie profits is placed in a pot, which is shared amongst the members of the guild who worked on the film in question. Despite MEAA claims that The Hobbit is "non-Union", our studio, Warner Brothers, is honouring these residuals, and making the profit sharing available to all the various Guild members - just as it did on The Lord of the Rings, and Universal did on King Kong.

    -- These residuals can be worth tens of thousands of dollars to an individual if the film is successful - however the normal situation is that if an actor is not a member of SAG, they do not share in the profit pot.

    -- This has always struck us as unfair, since most Kiwi actors are not lucky enough to be SAG members. For the Hobbit, Warner Brothers have agreed to create a separate pot of profit participation, which will be divided up amongst non-SAG actors who are cast in the film. This was not done because of any pressure from Guilds or Unions - it was actually Warners doing the decent thing, and New Zealand and Australian actors will be the principle beneficiaries. SAG members have their pot, and non-SAG members now have theirs. We have introduced the scheme to Kiwi agents and it's now part of all our Hobbit cast deals.

    -- Whatever damage MEAA is attempting to do -- and it will do damage, since that's their principal objective in targeting The Hobbit - we will continue to treat our actors and crew with respect, as we always have.

    -- As I said earlier, money and power lies behind this threatening behaviour from our Australian cousins, and to fully understand that, you simply have to step back and look at the greater picture in context.

    -- It starts with "NZ Actors Equity". This is a tiny organisation that represents a small minority of New Zealand Actors. They are not a Union, and have none of the legal status of a Union. They are a ... well, a smallish group who have some New Zealand actors as members. How many actors are members of NZ Equity? They guard that information very closely, but various reports I've seen put their membership at 200, although somebody in the know swears it's nearer 100.

    -- How many professional actors are there in New Zealand? Somewhere between 2000 and 4000, depending on just how you describe a "professional actor". Obviously most Kiwi actors have other employment too, but there's certainly over 2000 actors available to cast in a film production.

    -- So taking the most generous numbers, NZ Actors Equity represents 200 out of 2000 Kiwi actors, or 10%. Perhaps I'm wrong, and if so, NZ Equity will no doubt reveal their real membership numbers.

    - Now there's nothing wrong with NZ Actors Equity representing 10% of the actors in this country. It's great that they offer that service, and if an actor chooses, there's a supportive group they can join. Obviously the more actors that join NZ Equity, the better, since these organisations usually survive by taking a small percentage of their members acting fees. I'm guessing that Equity do something like that. Recently they have been part-funded by MEAA.

    - Over the last 10 years our relationship with NZ Equity has been rocky -- whenever we cast an "overseas actor", we get a letter telling us why such and such Kiwi actor would be so much better in the role. In most cases we have already auditioned the actor in question, and formed our own opinions -- but what strikes me as unfair, is how this "helpful" service of suggesting better choices only includes the "Equity 200". If you happen to be a good actor who doesn't belong to NZ Equity (and many don't), you're automatically not good enough to be put forward.

    -- What really does strike me as wrong, and this is my personal opinion, is the why that the MEAA is using NZ Actors Equity as a vehicle to represent the voices and opinions of New Zealand actors. A couple of years ago, the members of NZ Actors Equity voted to join some kind of alliance with the Australian MEAA group. At the time, there were voices of alarm at how this relationship could damage the interest of Kiwi Actors, but the merger went ahead - and now we're about to find out just how damaging it's going to be.

    -- As far as I know, the membership of NZ Actors Equity was allowed into the MEAA, meaning that the Australian MEAA organisation represents 200 out of 2000 Kiwi actors. I don't believe it represents non-Equity NZ actors. It speaks on behalf of a tiny minority of our actors.

    -- The management of NZ Equity are clearly happy to be used as a political football by the Australians -- but my sympathy goes to the 1800 New Zealand Actors who are not part of the "Equity 200", but who are going to suffer the fallout if this Hobbit thing goes nuclear.

    -- I also feel a growing anger at the way this tiny minority is endangering a project that hundreds of people have worked on over the last two years, and the thousands about to be employed for the next 4 years. The hundreds of millions of Warner Brothers dollars that is about to be spent in our economy.

    -- Why is this endangered? Because the "demands" of MEAA cannot be agreed to, or even considered - by law - and therefore the only options that remain involve closing the Hobbit down, or more likely shifting the production to Europe. It could so easily happen. I've been told that Disney are no longer bring movies to Australia because of their frustration with the MEAA.

    -- The MEAA is demanding that the Hobbit production company (Warners owned, 3foot7 Ltd) enter into negotiations for a Union negotiated agreement covering all performers on the film.

    -- I personally have a problem with any organisation who represent a small minority, but attempt to take control of everyone - but that's not the real issue. The complex web of NZ labour laws are the reason why this demand will never be agreed to.

    -- NZ law prohibits engaging in collective bargaining with any labour organisation representing performers who are independent contractors, as film actors clearly are. The NZ Commerce Act claims it would be unlawful to engage with an Australian Union on these matters.

    In closing:

    My personal opinion is that this is a grab for power. It does not represent a problem that needs a solution. There will always be differing opinions when it comes down to work and conditions, but I have always attempted to treat my actors and crew with fairness and respect. We have created a very favourable profit sharing pool for the non-Union actors on The Hobbit -- and now the Union is targeting us, despite the fact that we have always respected SAG conditions and residuals.

    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.

    -- Seriously, if the Hobbit goes east (Eastern Europe in fact) -- look forward to a long dry big budget movie drought in this country.

    -- Others gain from that too. SAG would much rather have it's members hired on movies -- as opposed to non-SAG actors. The easiest way to control that, is to stem what are called "runaway productions", which are American funded films made outside of America. The Hobbit is one of them, as was King Kong and LOTR. SAG, which is naturally supporting MEAA, would see it's own benefit in studios having a miserable experience in Australia/New Zealand. That may well be pushing the conspiracy theories one step too far, and it's perfectly natural that one Union would support another - but the point is that in the complex web of Hollywood intrigue, you never really know who's doing what to whom and why.

    But it sure feels like we are being attacked simply because we are a big fat juicy target - not for any wrong doing. We haven't even been greenlit yet! It feels as if we have a large Aussie cousin kicking sand in our eyes ... or to put it another way, opportunists exploiting our film for their own political gain.

    Peter Jackson
  • ShadowDancerShadowDancer When I say, "Why aye, gadgie," in my heart I say, "Och aye, laddie." London, UK
    I think he's pissed off.....
  • WORFWORF The Burninator
    I would be too.

  • BigglesBiggles <font color=#AAFFAA>The Man Without a Face</font>
    I don't blame him. This appears to be all a stir-up by the Australian actors' union, who have very little presence in NZ. What they're demanding is also illegal; NZ law takes a dim view of forcing employees and employers into anything. That includes forcing people to join unions. Since Jackson already had a very good working relationship with such outfits as the SAG, it's hard to see what the MEAA thought it could achieve other than driving films away from NZ (probably because NZ has been doing better than Australia in getting big-budget films recently).
  • WORFWORF The Burninator
    I suspect you're right, it is about driving films away from NZ. People know thats where Lord of the Rings was made and it makes perfect sense to film The Hobbit there.

    And what does Australia have to it's name? Two Star Wars prequels...
  • ShadowDancerShadowDancer When I say, "Why aye, gadgie," in my heart I say, "Och aye, laddie." London, UK
    In most people opinion, that would be two excellent reasons to keep films [i]away[/i] from Australia
  • BigglesBiggles <font color=#AAFFAA>The Man Without a Face</font>
    [QUOTE=WORF;189929]I suspect you're right, it is about driving films away from NZ. People know thats where Lord of the Rings was made and it makes perfect sense to film The Hobbit there.

    And what does Australia have to it's name? Two Star Wars prequels...[/QUOTE]

    Australia has quite a lot of movies to its name. A few big studios have been filming there for a lot longer than NZ, but recently NZ has been capturing the attention. Australia had the studio backlots, but in NZ, the entire country is a stage.
  • C_MonC_Mon A Genuine Sucker
    Pitch Black was filmed in Australia.
  • Entil'ZhaEntil'Zha I see famous people
    and now, New Line, Warner and MGM have weighed in...

    Studios Respond to Unions About The Hobbit
    Source: New Line, Warner Bros., MGM September 27, 2010

    On Friday, seven unions sent a letter to their members telling them not to work for The Hobbit films in New Zealand. They claimed that producers of the two films have refused to engage performers on union-negotiated agreements.

    That was followed on Sunday with a statement by Peter Jackson in response to the allegations, and now New Line, Warner Bros. and MGM have also released the following statement regarding the manner:

    New Line, Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures are concerned by the recent allegations of unfair treatment of actors in New Zealand and instructions from the performers' guilds to their membership to withhold services from the producers of "The Hobbit" in New Zealand. We are proud to have good relations with all of those performers' guilds and value their contribution to the motion pictures produced in their respective jurisdictions throughout the world. But we believe that in this case the allegations are baseless and unfair to Peter Jackson and his team in Wellington who have been tireless supporters of the New Zealand motion picture community.

    To classify the production as "non-union" is inaccurate. The cast and crew are being engaged under collective bargaining agreements where applicable and we are mindful of the rights of those individuals pursuant to those agreements. And while we have previously worked with MEAA, an Australian union now seeking to represent actors in New Zealand, the fact remains that there cannot be any collective bargaining with MEAA on this New Zealand production, for to do so would expose the production to liability and sanctions under New Zealand law. This legal prohibition has been explained to MEAA. We are disappointed that MEAA has nonetheless continued to pursue this course of action.

    Motion picture production requires the certainty that a production can reasonably proceed without disruption and it is our general policy to avoid filming in locations where there is potential for work force uncertainty or other forms of instability. As such, we are exploring all alternative options in order to protect our business interests.
  • Falcon1Falcon1 Elite Ranger
    One would think after all the mess that went on between Jackson and New Line this film would be in production already. This is really going to tarnish The Hobbit. It deserves to be made and would be tragic to see union action jeopardise it.

    Wasn't Mad Max made in Aus?
  • Entil'ZhaEntil'Zha I see famous people
    This film is CURSED...


    The Hobbit can't seem to catch a break.

    Despite long delays, money problems and last week's dustup over actors unions, Peter Jackson's $500 million Lord of the Rings prequel series is this close to getting the green light to start production in January, the Los Angeles Times is reporting.

    But then this happens:

    Jackson's New Zealand workshop went up in flames yesterday, burning for several hours.
  • BigglesBiggles <font color=#AAFFAA>The Man Without a Face</font>
    I bet that's front page news in NZ.
  • WORFWORF The Burninator
    I'm sure it's not at all suspicious that the production offices burnt down just days after the MEAA tried to make it impossible for the film to made.

  • Falcon1Falcon1 Elite Ranger
    I bet Del Toro is glad he's washed his hands of it now.
  • WORFWORF The Burninator
    Finally some good news!

  • ShadowDancerShadowDancer When I say, "Why aye, gadgie," in my heart I say, "Och aye, laddie." London, UK
    About time! Altho I'm sure there are still plenty of things that could yet go wrong, this is definitely good news!
  • Entil'ZhaEntil'Zha I see famous people
    Yep, saw this last night, here's hoping that their troubles finally end, and we can get this thing going... and get some casting news!
  • BigglesBiggles <font color=#AAFFAA>The Man Without a Face</font>
    He's got so thin...
  • MessiahMessiah Failed Experiment
    Bah, He got in shape. Good for him!
    Awesome news too!
  • ShadowDancerShadowDancer When I say, "Why aye, gadgie," in my heart I say, "Och aye, laddie." London, UK
    [URL=""]Blastr[/URL] is reporting that the Hobbit is being moved away from New Zealand. Bit of an own goal from the they 100% of no money from the movie being made there :rolleyes:
  • Entil'ZhaEntil'Zha I see famous people
    Well the union reversed their decision and lifted the "No Work" order, but it may be too late for NZ. The union may have just screwed NZ out of any WB film ever being shot there again.

  • ShadowDancerShadowDancer When I say, "Why aye, gadgie," in my heart I say, "Och aye, laddie." London, UK
    Can't say I blame WB. It's a massive amount of money they're ploughing into the films and they need certainty that its a stable environment in which to work. The unions wanted to have their cake and eat it, and have discovered that like in any other industry, it just doesnt work like that
  • Entil'ZhaEntil'Zha I see famous people
    I do however love it when a union tries a stunt like this and it backfires.
  • ShadowDancerShadowDancer When I say, "Why aye, gadgie," in my heart I say, "Och aye, laddie." London, UK
    Indeed, there is a certain poetic justice to the situation. However it sucks for the NZ economy
  • BigglesBiggles <font color=#AAFFAA>The Man Without a Face</font>
    I, too, both love and hate how badly this has backfired. It's put the union in their place, but at the same time it's had a massive effect on the livelihoods of thousands of other people. Members of pretty much every [i]other[/i] union involved in film making in NZ held protest marches against what the actors had done recently. The leader of the actor's union and the leader of the unions' union (who pretty much chose the actors over everyone else in all this) were mobbed by technicians coming out of a restaurant the other day and had to be escorted away by police. There appears to be a general feeling of resentment towards the actors' unions in NZ now.

    The worst part is that it wasn't even a NZ union that started this. It was an Australian one.

    Probably the only people who won't be affected by the fallout of this are Peter Jackson and Weta. The director can go anywhere he likes, and the wonders of modern technology mean that special effects can be done by Weta no matter where stuff is filmed.
  • WORFWORF The Burninator
    I think it's a great shame it won't be filmed in New Zealand, which looked perfect as Middle Earth.

    The article suggests they may go to Australia but that seems extremely unlikely, first because it was the source of the problems to begin with and second, they don't really have the right terrain.

    I'd personally like to see them film here in the UK and looking at the just announced [URL=""]cast[/URL], seems like a strong possibility.

  • Random ChaosRandom Chaos Actually Carefully-selected Order in disguise
    Hobbit cast: [url][/url]
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