Kiwi fans of The Hobbit are critical of the Government's and
even director Sir Peter Jackson's role in the film trilogy's
industrial relations dispute, a survey shows.
But others are excited before the first film's release next
month and feel a sense of pride that the trilogy is being
produced and made in NZ.
A Waikato University survey, aiming to test how pre-release
discussion, debate, marketing and promotion of a film shape
subsequent responses to it, has garnered responses from
Tolkien fans here and in the United States, Mexico, the
Philippines and parts of Europe.
Carolyn Michelle of the university's Audience Research Unit
is seeking more respondents but said early findings showed
the film has its detractors, with some local fans saying they
were disillusioned by its production issues.
The Hobbit was a source of local debate about the power of
Hollywood to dictate terms and conditions in the New Zealand
An industrial dispute threatened to derail the project until
the National Government agreed to introduce new employment
legislation and provide a 15 per cent rebate to get Warner
Bros to make the film in New Zealand - both controversial
decisions that drew widespread criticism.
"While some are very critical of the Government, Warner Bros,
and even in a few cases Peter Jackson himself, others seem to
feel quite torn about the issue - excited that the film is
being made here - but concerned about the labour relations
issues," said Dr Michelle. "Some others are more interested
in the potential economic benefits arising from the film in
terms of employment and tourism opportunities, and don't seem
to be fans of The Hobbit particularly."
She said other Kiwis were excited by New Zealand's link with
the film. Some expressed a sense of pride while others hoped
the movie could recreate the sense of wonder they felt as
children reading the book.
But some overseas fans expressed concerns about New Zealand
"giving up its national sovereignty" while some were
concerned about the long-term consequences for the country.
"The Hobbit does clearly have its detractors - some just
don't like fantasy films, others didn't enjoy the first
trilogy, a few are turned off by what they've seen and heard
so far if it is different to their expectations, still others
are turned off by all the media hype," said Dr Michelle.
"So it is already a very diverse data set, but we do still
need more participants to draw robust conclusions."
The survey's findings will be available in the week after the
film's release on December 12.
- James Ihaka of the NZ Herald