Time to stop bowing to Hollywood?

19:00, Feb 08 2013

The deal our Government made with Hollywood producers that allowed the filming of The Hobbit trilogy in New Zealand left a sour taste in the mouth for many.

The first movie has been released and has done well, and has somehow allowed people to forget the turmoil that was caused during production a couple of years ago.

At one stage New Line looked as if it might pull the plug on making the films here. The sticking points were over the employment laws and conditions of people working on the production as well as tax breaks.

A hastily arranged meeting between Prime Minister John Key and movie executives led to a change in our employment laws which led to accusations of cow-towing to Hollywood.

The bottom line, though, was the movies were made here.

Opinion was divided on whether Mr Key's means justified the ends, or whether we had figuratively sold our soul to the devil for the right price.


The dust settled on that, but a ruling this week by the Ombudsman stated that previously unreleased documents about The Hobbit, between the Government and the movie company, should be released.

But before the documents are even released New Line has come out and said if the information was made public it could jeopardise future movie opportunities.

That kind of talk is way out of line. Large movie productions from overseas get a pretty sweet deal in New Zealand. We've already changed our laws and given huge tax breaks. What more do they want?

Rather than accept the ruling of the Ombudsman, New Line has gone on the offensive and hinted that if the information came out, it would not be keen to do business with us.

As a country we have to draw the line somewhere. So, what do we do? Is it a matter of bowing down to New Line and the money and opportunities it may offer? Or is it a case of standing our ground and allowing the people of New Zealand, who helped subsidise The Hobbit movies, to see for themselves the negotiations that took place.

For people outside the speedway world, the only connection they have with the sport is the sound of it coming from FMG Stadium. But to those involved with it there is nothing bigger than the Superstock Teams Champs. For the region, it is simply a huge event. More than 15,000 punters pack out the stadium for a night of rip-roaring action. The city is busy, accommodation venues are sold out well in advance and there's rarely any trouble from the fans. Quite simply, the city couldn't ask for a better event.

Manawatu Standard