Hobbit deal laid bare in emails

KATE CHAPMAN AND ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 14:48 26/02/2013
Peter Jackson
FILMMAKER: Sir Peter Jackson.
Tim HurdleTim Hurdle
CONDUIT: Tim Hurdle, a senior adviser in Gerry Brownlee's office, communicated with Jackson.

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The Government has released a tranche of email exchanges between Sir Peter Jackson and ministerial officials, which lay bare his frustration over the deal eventually done to ensure The Hobbit was made here.


To view the files click here


Earlier this month the Ombudsman ordered the Government to release documents about the deal it struck for the movies. Warner Bros' New Line unit warned that the ruling jeopardised future film-making in New Zealand.

In a statement Jackson today said he welcomed the release of the documents, which he hoped would end ''unfounded conspiracy theories'' that a Hollywood studio had been dictating terms to a sovereign government.

In one October, 15, 2010 email between Jackson and Tim Hurdle, a senior adviser in Gerry Brownlee's office, the director's exasperation is clear.

Jackson said he believed Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) union boss Simon Whipp was attempting to derail the production.

He said the Government had "engaged with a snake, who now feels quite fearless".

"He is in revenge mode, intent on inflicting as much damage as he can to our film, our film industry, to our country," Jackson wrote.

"I really can't tale [sic] much more of this toxic nonsense. All I want to do is make films! I haven't been able to think about the movie for 3 weeks.

"Warners are coming down mid-week - I hope you can all sit in a room and get a positive result."

In another email the same day Jackson and his partner, Fran Walsh, said Whipp had "played us for fools".

He was using the Hobbit films to get his way into the New Zealand film industry and control all contracts for every actor, Jackson said.

"We cannot carry on for much longer in this insanity."

In a September 28, 2010 email to Chris Finlayson, the Minister for Culture and Heritage, Jackson said the union was ''jeopardizing the livelihood, not only of NZ actors, but also of crew, post-production workers, and industry support personnel - hundreds, if not thousands of jobs will be lost".

Jackson today added that the papers reflected the "intense stress we, as film makers, were under finding the  future of our films suddenly under threat by unjustified industrial action - a crisis that quickly lead to the very real possibility that Warner Bros would have no choice but to pull The Hobbit out of New Zealand''.

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He said that as a result of MEAA's industrial action, ''we found ourselves in the surreal situation of being asked by hundreds of actors and crew within the New Zealand film industry to defend them from the destructive actions of trade union officials, the very people who were supposed to be on their side''.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said the Government had originally sought to keep some of the information confidential in order to protect information that was provided in confidence and was commercially sensitive.

However, it now agreed with the release of the additional items, he said.

Some information was still withheld to protect legal privilege.

The Government secured the three movies by changing employment laws and beefing up the tax rebates for the productions.

Unions fought the law changes and the Labour Party accused the Government of chequebook legislation.

- Stuff

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