By Dan Parker
Filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh have made a special trip to the Beehive to discuss the problems which could see The Hobbit filmed overseas.
The pair met with Arts and Culture Minister Chris Finlayson and Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee, and the future of the country's film industry is on the line.
It has been 10 years since filming for The Lord of the Rings wrapped near Arrowtown – but it's still providing economic stimulus for the region.
Fans from all over the world still flock there like extras, but the Rings tour business is already being enviously eyed from overseas.
“We saw the response to The Lord of the Rings, it was phenomenal for us as a small country,” says tour operator Melissa Heath. “If The Hobbit was to go offshore to some other exotic location, New Zealand will just slip into the background and be forgotten.”
Ms Heath says losing The Hobbit business would be a disaster, but that is what's being threatened.
“It's not a game right now, in America Warner Brothers studio's accountants are running the numbers on five to six different locations – that's very real,” says co-producer of The Hobbit Phillipa Boyens.
Film-making isn't normal government business, but it's an economic crisis – with the future of the billion-dollar film industry could be in jeopardy.
Ms Boyens says if problems can be worked through with actors' equity, filming could begin as soon as January – a deal the Government's trying to make happen.
“If we can't get to a point where we are competitive, there's no question those films could be made in other parts of the world,” Prime Minister John Key says.
“This is the industry where subsidies play an important role.”
The union that kicked up the fuss has now gone strangely silent, with an announcement expected later this week from Sir Peter on the future of The Hobbit.
source: newshub archive