The Hobbit: Lies and Manipulation | The Jackal

27 Feb 2013

The Hobbit: Lies and Manipulation

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The Government was aware that a union-imposed boycott on Sir Peter Jackson's film The Hobbit had been lifted, but continued to insist that it was in place, official documents released yesterday showed.

So the government misled the public... No surprises there then.

The documents also revealed the minister was aware that a union blacklist - an international ban on actors working on The Hobbit on non-union terms - was lifted on October 18. At the time, the Government denied that the boycott had ended.

When Peter Jackson said there was a very real risk that Warners would relocate the production of The Hobbit to Eastern Europe and his wife the screenwriter, Frances Walsh, also said that Disney would not consider further productions in New Zealand because of difficulties with our immigration laws, they were lying.

There was no evidence to back up their claims, and they blatantly lied in order to ramp up the fear of New Zealand losing production work to give the government an excuse to do what they wanted.

However there's no excuse for the government going along with such disgusting manipulations, of which they were fully complicit in and aware of. At the time, there simply was no real possibility to move the filming of The Hobbit out of New Zealand, just a hollow threat made by Peter Jackson and echoed by other dishonest people.

They lied because they didn't want actors to negotiate collective bargaining rights and have residuals overseen by a union.

They also didn't want to give the Australian based Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) a list of actors they intended to use on the production... That's because New Zealand workers should be used if they're available and Jackson simply didn't want to employ Kiwis.

During the furore, the overblown claims by Jackson, Walsh and Warner Brothers became very ludicrous indeed. Here's one particularly insane letter amongst many (PDF) they wrote to the government in Oct 2010:

Dear Ministers Brownlee and Findlayson - just to be clear

Simon Whipp is doing this to enable the MEAA to become the distributor of all non-sag residuals on NZ films. (This has always been his end game) He is doing this so that he can claim to have negotiated The Hobbit contract. This in turn will give him and the MEAA access to a very large chunk of money via the actor's residuals. (The MEAA takes 5%-15% off all down stream earnings)

The things Whipp has cited as conditions for lifting the ban (facilities, meals and turnaround) are the same things he brought up as problems with The Hobbit contract. This is not a coincidence.

This is his way into our fim and NZ film industry.

If we allow this to happen the next action we will be facing from the FIA (backed by SAG) a joint union action to force the production to acknowledge the MEAA as having been party to the negotiation of terms and conditions for all performers, thus according them the right to distribute all Non-SAG residuals. Once the MEAA control residuals they control the film industry.

This guy has played us for fools. We have just heard that NZ Equity are about to make a statement claiming they have negotiated The Hobbit residuals with Warners.

We appreciate your support, but in light of the MEAA's tactics we cannot carry on for much longer in this insanity.

Best regards,

Fran and Peter

MEAA was going to control the film industry by negotiating residuals? Don't make me laugh! With such rubbish going on, it's no wonder they didn't want these documents made public.

The real kicker here though is there was no threat by MEAA to blacklist The Hobbit when the government claimed there was one and changed employment laws to cut New Zealand workers out of the deal... There was also no practical way Warners could relocate production to Europe when Peter Jackson claimed they were considering doing just that.

Knowing that the ban had been lifted, the lying bastards went ahead and wasted peoples time by organizing protests to keep The Hobbit in New Zealand anyway... What a bunch of dishonest pricks! With that kind of crap going on, it's no wonder The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey isn't a very good movie and bombed at the Oscars.