‘The Hobbit’ Might Not Film in New Zealand

Published 3 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:29 pm,

Yet another obstacle that could delay production on The Hobbit has arisen – this time in the form of a memo that is discouraging Screen Actors Guild members from signing up for the project.

An organization known as the New Zealand Actor’s Equity is responsible for initiating this campaign against Peter Jackson and his Hobbit films.  The group is seeking to pressure bankrupt MGM, Warner Bros., Three Foot Seven productions, and Jackson himself into negotiating a new deal on wages and working conditions for its members.

Jackson has released a public statement - which can be read in full HERE - in response to this move.  In the letter, the filmmaker touches on his own membership in three well-known Hollywood Unions; the details of a scheme that he and Warner Bros. have devised in order to fairly compensate both SAG and non-SAG members that work on The Hobbit; and the fact that the NZ Actor’s Equity represents a very small percentage of Australian and New Zealand actors in total.

Ultimately Jackson reveals that he believes the NZ Actor’s Equity has begun this campaign against The Hobbit production as a means to “… gain a foothold in [Australia's] film industry.  They want greater membership, since they get to increase their bank balance.”

Warner Bros and IMAX deal The Hobbit delay The Hobbit Might Not Film in New Zealand

This move by the NZ Actor’s Equity could force The Hobbit production to relocate to Eastern Europe – which would (ironically) severely weaken the Australian/New Zealand filmmaking industry overall.  The project has not (technically) even been greenlit yet and will not be until MGM’s current financial status changes.

What effect could this potentially have on The Hobbit?  Besides possibly delaying the production even more than it has been already, this move would mean that the grandiose New Zealand landscape will not be used to represent Middle-Earth in the film.  That would not sit well with moviegoers whose vision of the fantastical realm has become synonymous with the unusual Kiwi countryside, which was featured prominently throughout Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

New Zealand The Hobbit Might Not Film in New Zealand

The New Zealand setting played an important role in Jackson's LOTR trilogy.

It seems highly unlikely that a deal won’t be worked out that allows The Hobbit to be filmed in New Zealand, given the lucrative nature of the project.  Jackson’s response to the situation has been fairly reasonable so far and  it wouldn’t benefit him to make the situation any more complicated than it already is.

Fans surely won’t be pleased to hear about The Hobbit having more problems on its way to the big screen – still, if there is any truth to that old Hollywood saying about how the best movies are always extremely difficult to make, the final product could prove worth all the drama at the end of the day. Maybe.

Source: Deadline

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  1. I think if they are going to Europe to film, green-screens will be the only thing that may suffice because that landscape will be nothing like New Zealand. Of course, new places in Middle-Earth will be explored so I guess that not everything will be green screened.

    • What’s the problem with filming in Europe exactly? It’s a fairly large place, with a hugely diverse countryside and landscape, there is nothing in New Zealand that cannot be found in Europe.

      Europe has;

      Mountains. Check.

      Lakes. Check.

      Rivers. Check.

      Lots of interesting geographical features. Check.

      Huge expanses of empty land. Check.

      Well, that should about do it then!

  2. This may work out… But LOTR was amazing, both story and visual… The landscape will not be matched in europe… New Zealand is where it should stay… I hope this isnt real…

    • What’s the problem with filming in Europe exactly? It’s a fairly large place, with a hugely diverse countryside and landscape, there is nothing in New Zealand that cannot be found in Europe.

      Europe has;
      Mountains. Check.

      Lakes. Check.

      Rivers. Check.

      Lots of interesting geographical features. Check.

      Huge expanses of empty land. Check.

      Well, that should about do it then!

      • I grew up in New Zealand and lived in Europe for 10 years, where I travelled to more than 15 countries including Poland, Romania, Scandinavia and Russia. While it may be possible to find suitable mountains, rivers etc in different parts of Europe, they will be spread over a much greater area, which will mean a lot more travel, crossing borders etc. and accompanying expense. This was the original reason that LOR was filmed in New Zealand – the proximity of such a variety pristine settings. (and the relatively low cost of labour and extras compared to the US).
        But more important for me is the less tangible quality of New Zealand that comes through in the LOR flims and lends them a feeling of innocence and authenticity. The New Zealand landscape was like a major character in the LOR films where Jackson and co so successfully captured the atmosphere of Tolkien’s world. There is something about New Zealand that just feels like Middle-Earth. OK, I’ve felt that in the forests of Finland and the mountains of Romania too, but for so many of us, New Zealand is simply where hobbits and elves live.

  3. I have two words for you Mr. Jackson

    WESTERN CANADA!!

    • That could suffice to.

  4. new plan… Boycott Australia and New Zealand until they agree to Jacksons requirements to film.

    Before The LOTR films were made, no one went to New Zealand for vactions. Tourism to that country went up 1000% since. If it was for any other directer i should say so but for Jackson, just give the man what he wants and be done with it. He’s done so much for the country already that they should not be complaining.

    so until this is resolved, i shall not go to Outback Stakehous, i shall not play with my boomarang, I will not eat Kiwis, and (this ones gonna hurt me and them the most) i shall not listen to Flight of the Conchords.

    it’ll be hard but these movies are worth it

    • I like your style nowhereman!

    • This does appear to be a power play by the Australians – why should New Zealand suffer?

      By the way, although it is true that the LOR films boosted the New Zealand tourist industry hugely, it is certainly not true to say that ‘no-one went to New Zealand for vacations” before the films. New Zealand has been a popular tourist destination for decades, for good reason.

  5. i give up this will never ever get made its doomed forever

  6. I’m in NZ and this is big news, the talk here is that the Aussies are using the NZ Equity to get more power and ruin the NZ industry…Jackson even said it’s the Aussies bullying power play…anyway film studios don’t want any trouble so it probably won’t be filmed here in NZ

  7. Anywhere BUT az lol theres nothing here…

  8. i agree western Canada is ruggedly beautiful:)

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