Several actors’ guilds, including SAG and AFTRA, have issued an alert for their members urging them not to accept work on the “non-union” Peter Jackson production of The Hobbit, according to Hollywood Reporter. The two-film series, which has not yet been greenlit (although appears to be moving forward, see “The Hobbit Inches Toward the Screen”), is preparing to film in New Zealand, where a local guild is trying to get a contract with the production.
Director Peter Jackson issued a response in which he threatened to move production to Europe and argued that he honored SAG terms with SAG members but would not sign with the New Zealand brand of Australia-based guild MEAA, arguing that because actors are independent contractors, such an agreement would violate New Zealand law.
This is one more bump on what has been an incredibly rocky road for the production, which has had problems with the financial condition of MGM, which owns part of the rights, and has lost its first director Guillermo del Toro (see “Hobbit Director Quits”), before Jackson agreed to helm the films himself.
Almost everyone believes the film will still be made despite all the problems because there’s just too much money at stake. The three films in the original Lord of the Rings trilogy grossed nearly $3 billion at the box office worldwide.