Peter Jackson: Aussie Plot Against NZ Endangering “The Hobbit”

In the face of seven major actors unions urging its members to boycott Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit," the producer -- and likely director -- has professed his support for unions and implied that the whole kerfuffle is actually an effort by Australia to "hurt the New Zealand film industry."

"I can't see beyond the ugly specter of an Australian bully-boy using what he perceives as his weak Kiwi cousins to gain a foothold in this country's film industry," Jackson said in a statement issued over the weekend. "They want greater membership, since they get to increase their bank balance."

"I also feel a growing anger at the way this tiny minority is endangering a project that hundreds of people have worked on over the last two years, and the thousands about to be employed for the next four years."

All this anger is in reaction to a call by Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA, aka the actors union in Australia) for

Canadian Actors Equity, US Actors Equity, the Screen Actors Guild, UK Actors Equity, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists to join them in in refusing to work on the film.
"If you are contacted to be engaged on 'The Hobbit' please notify your union immediately," the unions told tehir members on Friday.
But Jackson, who admits to not being a labor lawyer, contends that meeting the demands of the boycotting unions would be legally impossible in New Zealand.
“NZ law prohibits engaging in collective bargaining with any labor organization representing performers who are independent contractors, as film actors clearly are. The NZ Commerce Act claims it would be unlawful to engage with an Australian Union on these matters.”
The upshot of the whole mess is cleat -- and disheartening -- to Jackson.

Therefore the only options that remain involve closing the Hobbit down, or more likely shifting the production to Europe. It could so easily happen."

Let's start a pool -- who thinks this thing will hit theaters by 2014?

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