4 Oct 2010

Key says progress being made on Hobbit dispute

10:31 pm on 4 October 2010

Prime Minister John Key believes progress is being made towards resolving the industrial dispute involving Sir Peter Jackson's film The Hobbit.

Actors' unions have been pushing to negotiate a collective employment agreement before performers accept work on the movie.

Mr Key says government ministers have spoken to both Sir Peter and a representative of Actors' Equity in the past 24 hours, and he believes there is movement towards a resolution.

Earlier on Monday, the office of Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee confirmed that Mr Brownlee and Attorney-General Chris Finlayson had had a half-hour meeting with Sir Peter and his wife, Fran Walsh.

Mr Key says Mr Brownlee has also been in contact with Actors' Equity representative Jennifer Ward-Lealand.

He says the Government is doing its best to see the situation resolved, as it doesn't want the production moved offshore.

It's not a game, co-producer warns

One of the film's producers and writers, Philippa Boyens, has warned that New Zealand remains at huge risk of losing the production, and that the unions are underestimating how serious the situation is.

"It's not a game," Ms Boyens told Nine to Noon, "because right now in America Warner Brothers studio accountants are running the numbers on five to six different locations.

"That's very real - and that has put at risk the livelihoods of countless thousands of New Zealand industry workers."

She says other countries including Scotland, Ireland, Canada and Australia are actively lobbying for the production, as well as Eastern Europe.

Ms Boyens says the action has already done a lot of damage to New Zealand's reputation and thrown doubt on the stability of our film industry.