International

New Zealand To Change Law To Keep 'The Hobbit'

John Key Holds

hide captionNew Zealand Prime Minister John Key announcing the deal he struck to keep "The Hobbit" in his country.

Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images AsiaPac

Prime Minister John Key spent two days in talks with executives from Warner Bros. about keeping the production of "The Hobbit" movies in New Zealand. The "Lord of the Rings" films, which were shot there, gave a boost not only to the country's film industry, but drove huge amounts of tourism.

The production had been threatened when New Zealand's actors union threatened to boycott work on the film in an effort to get union wages. Currently New Zealand actors are independent contractors. The threat caused the film studio to threaten moving the film to another location. The union withdrew its threat, and thousands took to the streets over the weekend in support of keeping the production in New Zealand.

The talks must have been tough, because the New Zealand government promised to change their labor law and give the studio tax rebates reports the Financial Times.

Mr Key said the government would introduce legislation on Thursday to clarify the distinction between independent contractors and employees working exclusively in the film industry.

“The industrial issues that have arisen in the past several weeks have highlighted a significant set of concerns for the way in which the international film industry operates,” he said.

“We will be moving to ensure that New Zealand law in this area is settled to give film producers like Warner the confidence they need to produce their movies in this country.”

Mr Key said tax rebates would be changed, allowing Warner to claim an extra $7.5m for each Hobbit movie. “My government is determined to use the opportunity that the Hobbit movies present to highlight New Zealand as a great place to visit, as well as a great place to do business,” he said.

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