[UPDATE: In the never-ending ping-pong game that is news coverage of The Hobbit, it seems that Jackson is NOT confirmed after all (Ugh). Details here.]
The Hobbit is one of the most eagerly-anticipated and often discussed films currently in development. Unfortunately, it is also seems to be the most beset with problems and delays. There has been profit sharing disputes between members of the Tolkien family and Warner Bros., not to mention MGM’s financial crisis, which has caused pre-production on The Hobbit to move at a snail’s pace.
The latest in a series of set back’s is a dispute between the filmmakers and the New Zealand actors guild along with other acting unions, such as Australia's Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance. The guilds are reportedly accusing the production of engaging in “unfair treatment of actors” on “previous films.” The unions hope to establish new guidelines with the production in order to prevent said treatment on The Hobbit. According to The Australian, “The dispute flamed out of control because the NZ film industry doesn't have a minimum standard contract for actors, something it desperately lacks.”
The New Zealand government stepped in to moderate the dispute, as the small nation does not want to risk the dispute becoming volatile enough to cause Warner Bros. to move the production altogether. Were Warner Bros. to relocate the production, the New Zealand economy would lose nearly $200 million dollars of The Hobbit's production budget. The country would also face the risk of decreased studio interest in New Zealand. It does look as if the dispute will be settled and the film will be “approved for production in the coming days.”
One can only hope that this dispute represents one final round of hiccups in the pre-production phase of The Hobbit, and that we will be seeing the story of Bilbo Baggins up on the big screen in December of 2012, as planned. With Peter Jackson officially set to direct, it is now a matter of either MGM (which seems unlikely), Warner Bros., a third party, or some combination, coming up with a reported $500 million in a production budget.