Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
The leader of NZ First political party has demanded Warner Bros. repay the $NZ67 million ($US56 million) subsidy it got from the New Zealand government for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit after the first film in the trilogy grossed more than $NZ1 billion worldwide. Winston Peters disputed Prime Minister John Key’s claim that the productions had created an extra 3,000 jobs, alleging that figure was plucked from the air. A spokeswoman for Key insisted 3,000 jobs was “a minimum” and did not count flow-on jobs created for businesses and communities that supplied and serviced The Hobbit. In correspondence with the government obtained by NZ First under the Official Information Act, a rep of Jackson’s Wingnut Films described 3,000 jobs as “a good number” and said there were 1,000 people on payroll at the studio, 1,000 at Weta Digital and almost 1,000 at Park Road Post, Weta Workshop and related companies and casual contractors. NZ First has seven seats in parliament and Peters was a Minister outside Cabinet in the Labour-led coalition government from 2005-2008. “The Government stands by its commitment to attract and retain the film industry in New Zealand in order to reap these significant economic benefits,” Key’s spokesman said. Warner Bros. had no comment.