Official: 'The Hobbit' Stays In New Zealand

Producer/director Peter Jackson is celebrating. Warner Bros executives were locked in negotiations all day with New Zealand government leaders. Then Prime Minister John Key announced at a press conference tonight that The Hobbit back-to-back movies will be made in New Zealand. That’s a $500+ million project, and the Hollywood studio bargained considerable perks for itself. Tax rebates of up to an extra $7.5 million per movie are arranged, subject to the success of the pics. The NZ government will offset $10 million of Warner Bros’ marketing costs as part of the strategic partnership. And New Zealand will also host one of the world premieres of the Hobbit movies. The NZ Government and Warner Bros also agreed to work together in a “long-term strategic partnership” to promote New Zealand as both a film production and tourism destination. Said Key: “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.”

The NZ government will introduce legislation tomorrow to clarify the distinction between independent contractors and employees as it relates to the film industry only, according to news reports. “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,” Key said. “We will be moving to ensure that New Zealand law in this area is settled to give film producers like Warner Bros the confidence they need to produce their movies in this country. This will guarantee the movies are made in New Zealand.”

Besides Key, ministers bargaining included Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee, and Arts Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson. “I am delighted we have achieved this result,” Key said, according to news reports. “Making the two Hobbit movies here will not only safeguard work for thousands of New Zealanders, but it will also follow the success of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy in once again promoting New Zealand on the world stage. It’s good to have the uncertainty over, and to have everyone now full steam ahead on this project.”

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