The last major dilatory hurdle for The Hobbit has finally been overcome. The two-part epic of The Hobbit, much like its predecessors in The Lord of the Rings films, will indeed film in New Zealand. Coming off the heels of some of the most exciting movie news ever revealed in the casting of Martin Freeman and eight others for roles in the film, there was still the pesky lingering issue of the Union boycott which threatened to force the production away from the now famous New Zealand countryside shots we all recognize from the last films. On the verge of losing the economic force that the $670 million production would provide for the country, negotiations went into full effect with even the nation's Prime Minister himself heavily involved in making sure that New Zealand remained the real-world counterpart of Middle Earth. After a somewhat tumultuous period which resulted in major protests against the Union boycotts in favor of keeping the Hobbit jobs in NZ, the negotiations have been finalized between Warner Bros. executives and Government Ministers.
The vague distinction for NZ actors between "employees" and "independent contractors," which was the primary threatening force behind the Union boycott will be resolved with legislation designed to clarify. Additionally, tax rebates, which were strong incentives for Warner to pack-up shop and leave for Europe, have now been offered in the form of an extra $7.5 million USD per movie and the promise to offset $10 million of the marketing costs. So, if my math is correct, using a series of complex graphing calculators and a talking super-computer designed for nuclear missile defense named Joshua, that makes it a $25 million USD incentive for both films. In the larger scope of things, that is pocket change, but nevertheless, it's something.
According to NZ Prime Minister John Key:
"I am delighted we have achieved this result, said Mr Key. "Making the two Hobbit movies here will not only safeguard work for thousands of New Zealanders, but it will also follow the success of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy in once again promoting NZ on the world stage." Adding: "My Government is determined to use the opportunity that the Hobbit movies present to highlight New Zealand as a great place to visit, as well as a great place to do business."
And with that, we can FINALLY put to bed, this industry drama, which in some form or another, has been out to stop this movie from happening. Barring any other absurd unforeseen circumstances which would validate that this production is indeed cursed, the film is greenlit, cast, and ready to go in February. (Part One hits theaters Dec. 2012 and Part Two hits Dec. 2013.) As I said in the last write-up on the Union issue, it's not like The Hobbit couldn't be made without New Zealand, and casual moviegoers, if they even knew in the first place, would think nothing of the changes. However, if you know enough about what went into the production of The Lord of the Rings films and its close connection to New Zealand (via interviews and the Extended Edition DVD commentaries,) you will understand why The Hobbit staying in New Zealand was not only a victory for them, but also for the spiritual aspect of the production itself.
So, everything seems to be in place now. Are we finally ready for the damn Hobbit, now?
Source: NZ Herald