Warner Bros. sends a clear threat to New Zealand:
Warner Bros is threatening that the Government’s release of confidential documents about the Hobbit union debate would be a “major disincentive” to future film-making in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Ombudsman has ordered the Government to release documents about the deal it struck to ensure the Hobbit movies were made in the country.
The Government secured the three movies by changing employment laws and beefing up the tax rebate sweetener for the productions, resulting in an additional $25 million in incentives for Warner Bros.
Steve Hulett has more here.
2 years ago I wrote about the debacle concerning the Hobbit. Most media reports focused on the premise that Peter Jackson and WB were concerned about a union group looking to organize Hobbit actors and threatened to take filming to another location. I disagreed, studios have generally dealt with unions no matter where they shoot.
In fact, it was later revealed that email exchanges with the NZ government showed that while Peter Jackson was publicly saying the union boycott was a threat, he privately told the NZ government the opposite.
The real issue in my opinion was this:
- The NZ dollar was rising making it more expensive for studios to do work there.
- Subsidies have rapidly increased in other locations.
- Warner Bros used a minor union dispute as cover their demand for larger subsidies.
I believe these documents will reveal that negotiations had little to do about unions and had mostly to do with shaking down the NZ government in an unprecedented use of leverage by a US studio.
Shortly after the Hobbit crisis, the studios took advantage of another crisis: The Christchurch earthquake. A powerful earthquake hit the NZ city of Christchurch leading to deaths and huge damage which led to a need for government aid.
During that crisis, the studios inserted a SOPA-like provision in a disaster aid bill which would allow entire families to have their internet disconnected without proof of copyright infringement.
Will the documents be revealed? We’ll find out in March.