Movie maker Sir Peter Jackson says New Zealand needs to keep
up with international competition if it wants to continue
making big budget movies here.
His latest film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, has its
world premiere in Wellington tomorrow.
The movie was made here, but Sir Peter told Radio New Zealand
Warner Bros was close to taking production overseas.
He said the industry needed tax incentives that other
In 2010 the Hobbit trilogy was guaranteed a New Zealand home
when a deal between Warner Bros and the Government saw $34
million in tax breaks for the industry, help with marketing
costs and an urgent change to labour laws.
The legislative changes ensured that film workers hired as
contractors would not be able to later argue in court that
they were employees.
The deal was vigorously opposed by the Council of Trade
Unions and the Actors Equity union.
Sir Peter told RNZ the Australian actors union was pushing
for collective bargaining by the actors, despite the fact
that they were hired as independent contractors.
"It was using the Hobbit to get what they were trying to get
but it wasn't within the law here and no one seemed to get
He said The Hobbit came "very close" to not being filmed
"The worst time for me was when a huge box arrived in the
office...they [Warner Bros] had sent a location scout around
England and Scotland to take photos.
"They literally had the Hobbit script broken down into each
scene and in each scene there were pictures of the Scottish
highlands and forests in England and that was to convince us
that we could easily go over there and shoot the film.
"Because the Hobbit was going to happen and they wanted me to
do it and I would have gone over there to do it and yet I was
trying to fight for it to stay here."
Sir Peter said tax incentives were part of the film industry
worldwide and there was no sentimentality with the film
studios when it came to movie budgets.
"There's no way they're going to spend an extra cent for the
sentimental reason of doing it because that's where Peter
lives. It's just not going to happen."
He said if New Zealand wanted to make films it had to be
aware of what competition there was internationally.
"If you want to be in the game, you've got to be in the