Warner Bros. Threatens New Zealand

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.

Soldier On.

14 Responses to Warner Bros. Threatens New Zealand

  1. Some Guy says:

    And the difference between a corporation committing extortion and the organized crime doing it is what, exactly? Oh, yeah, it’s legal when a corporation does it. So what does a society do when the law itself is illegal?

    Oh, and what happened to vfxlaw? My guess is that he was given a choice he couldn’t refuse…

  2. deanareeno says:

    @Some Guy: “Oh, and what happened to vfxlaw?”

    That’s weird, the new blog has been removed and the new twitter account is locked…? Déjà vu!

  3. Dank says:

    I didn’t see this post before but figured it would be good to add it here.


  4. Jen says:

    Warner Bros’ threat: “If you dare to tell the world how we exploited you, we will NEVER EXPLOIT YOU AGAIN.”

  5. RH_vfx says:

    And again we go back to the root of all the problems. The production companies.

  6. Mike says:

    soldier, can you comment on vfxlaw? I was going to laugh at this post, but I guess it’s not funny….well, at least there’s some movement finally in this industry, people are talking about taking a stand, governments are sick of paying up the wazoo for movie productions and facilities are taking a nother look at how they do business… change for the better is on the horizon…. and it’s about time… all the fantastic work that’s been done up to this point needs some reward…..

  7. Junkie VFX says:

    And you’re saying no one knows who you are? :} fellow Alumni…

  8. andrei gheorghiu says:

    If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time. –
    Marian Wright Edelman

  9. […] VFX Soldier – Warner Bros. Threatens New Zealand […]

  10. […] I’m dissapointed to see WB’s actions on the heels of threats leveled at the country of New Zealand. This only adds more volatility to the industry at a very difficult […]

  11. I’m psyched to see a new update, I was going through irrational distress! I adore reading your blog, I can’t get enough of it!

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