Blogger and writer Jonathan Handel brings to light the political challenges of making an expected box office hit in New Zealand.
As fans of The Hobbit scanned the red carpet at the film’s premiere in Wellington last night, some New Zealand activists are still bitter about the outcome of a failed unionization attempt in 2010, even as NZ Actors Equity is finally making progress in negotiations with the country’s producers association.
Meanwhile, the government continues to resist publicly disclosing a key legal report, despite having apparently provided copies to Warner Bros. and producer/director Peter Jackson’s Wingnut Films. That stance may change, as government officials are meeting on the matter December 5, according to a local press report.
“I’m bloody angry,” said NZAE vice president Phil Darkins at a conference last week at Victoria University. Referring to New Zealand’s uniquely non-unionized film industry, he said caustically “New Zealand is the only English speaking nation on the planet where professional performers ply their trade at the mercy of their lords and masters. And they are supposed to do this feeling nothing but enormous gratitude for the fact that there is even work available.”
In an email to The Hollywood Reporter, a NZAE organizer struck a different note. “We're having productive discussions with SPADA,” said Anna Majavu, referring to the country’s Screen Production and Development Association, “and look forward to reaching a mutually-agreeable conclusion.”