Controversial 'Hobbit law' up for review

Employment conditions for the film and TV industry are under review.

The Government is setting up a working group to come up with a replacement for the infamous Hobbit Law that banned collective bargaining in New Zealand's filmmaking industry.

But it will be tricky not scaring off Hollywood.

Government, producers, industry and actors met on Thursday to see new sound stages being built and to construct new employment laws. 

"We understand there are aspects of the industry in the way it operates right now that are vital to its future and we want to retain those while we extend the right to bargain collectively," said Iain Lees Galloway, Workplace Relations Minister.

Contrast that with seven years ago when actors protested conditions on the set of the Hobbit and the John Key-led government appeased Warner Bros studio with the so called "Hobbit Law" to stop collective bargaining.

"It's much better approach to what happened then which was very rushed, very panicked, there was a lot of scaremongering that happened a lot of misinformation," said Melissa Ansell-Bridges, Industrial Organiser at Equity New Zealand. 

Actors want better conditions and collective bargaining - the studios want certainty before committing to making movies here.

At stake is the future health of a screen industry worth $3.3 billion. Cinema alone accounts for $1 billion of that and it's been on a roll, doubling revenue in 2016.

Hollywood producer and Kiwi resident Barry Osborne was a producer on The Hobbit. More recently he filmed a fantasy action movie The Meg in west Auckland. 

He says it will be tricky satisfying everyone.

"It will be difficult to structure so that it work but it can work as long as, I think it will need a change to the employment code".

Mr Osborne says he's brought $500 million worth of movies to New Zealand and he's rumoured to be currently working on Disney's $100 million remake of Mulan.

It's that kind of investment the New Zealand industry wants to keep while still protecting its workers.