Book slams Govt's accommodating position to Warners with The Hobbit
Sunday 25 Nov 2012 4:43 p.m.
By David Farrier
If you haven't heard, one of the biggest films of the year premiers in New Zealand next week – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
While it's on track to make millions, it has faced its fair share of controversy, including a damning new book out this weekend.
All has not been quiet in the shire recently, and now there is a new book out about the union disputes from two years ago.
Author Jonathan Handel, an American entertainment attorney and journalist, is critical of Prime Minister John Key's negotiating skills.
“I have to ask myself, ‘did he know how to interact with the big boys?’” says Mr Handel. “Because Warners flew down like colonial masters and the Government paid for the limos.”
Mr Handel notes that MP Trevor Mallard said at the time it's the sort of behaviour you'd expect in Fiji, not New Zealand.
“And it really is extraordinary. You are going to come down and negotiate hardball with us and we are going to lay out the red carpet and lay down on the carpet.”
The Hobbit has had its fair share of setbacks.
Fans and journalists were generally left cold when they saw early footage of the film, shot in 48 frames per second. That's double what you’re used to seeing at the movies, so initially it looks more like a cheap TV show than an epic film.
Bloggers were puzzled, one calling it a “soap opera look” or a “video look”.
In reaction, Warner Bros have dramatically decreased the number of screens showing The Hobbit in 48 frames per second.
Then there was more drama, with PETA claims about the ill treatment of animals on set and, as usual, the Tolkien Estate suing to the tune of $98 million, saying the film's producers have overstepped what they're allowed to do with merchandise.
Of course Warners will be laughing regardless. When Hobbit tickets went on pre-sale in the United States, they outsold Skyfall and Twilight instantly.