Even though the threat on Middle-Earth has been lifted, "The Hobbit" may still evacuate New Zealand for greener pastures.
Both the Screen Actors Guild and New Zealand's Actors Equity released statements yesterday notifying actors that any advisories against "The Hobbit" have been lifted, freeing them to accept employment on the two prequels to Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Sounds like everyone is free and clear to keep "The Hobbit" and Middle-Earth at large right at home in New Zealand, right?
Alas, the lifting of the blacklist may have come too late, as Jackson and his producing partner and wife Fran Walsh released a joint statement of their own saying that "the damage inflicted on [New Zealand's] film industry by NZ Equity/MEAA is long since done."
"Next week Warners are coming down to NZ to make arrangements to move the production off-shore," Jackson and Walsh said in the statement. "It appears we now cannot make films in our own country -- even when substantial financing is available."
Jackson and Walsh added that NZ Actors Equity's decision to remove the blacklist before hearing the concerns of New Zealand film workers worried about losing "The Hobbit" is a display of the organization's "gutlessness."
"They don't appear to care about the repercussions of their actions on others, nor are they prepared to take responsibility for decisions made in their name," they stated.
Despite Jackson's condemning words, the director and producer said that he's still hoping to keep "The Hobbit" exactly where it is: "We will continue the fight to keep the film in NZ, but ultimately this decision belongs to Warner Bros. We are however, hugely heartened by the incredible show of support from Wellington actors, technicians and crew. It is a reflection of the terrific pride NZ film workers have in their industry and their very real fear of losing their jobs."
Should "The Hobbit" stay put in New Zealand? And what do you think of Jackson's statement? Tell us in the comments section and on Twitter!