Oct 29 2010, 4:38am
But the industrial action (boycott) paved the way for this. As I understand it, WB asked for 3 things:
I don't think this was about industrial action.
1. Assurance of industrial peace. The unions gave them that with their very belated "unconditional assurance". If they'd never called a boycott or lifted it as soon as it was pointed out that their demands were impossible and illegal, the studio would not have gotten involved, and would never have questioned the conditions. BUT, as PJ kept saying, the damage was done within a week - WB was aware and involved. And it was left up for a month, for no apparent reason, which does not inspire confidence and by the end of which the studio was threatening to go elsewhere, which led to meetings in NZ, which gave them the opportunity to make other demands while they were at it. Perfect time to ask for a little extra sweetening of the pot. So they went on to ask for:
2. Tax breaks. They knew they could get a better rate elsewhere, and they'd been willing to settle for the current rate in NZ, but now that they've had to come all the way down there and sort this out....
3. Clarification of employment status. To the mind of an American, the idea of signing a contract as one thing but later being able to declare that you're really something else is vague and baffling. The fact that there had already been a lawsuit involving PJ's company dealing with this, and the ruling flip-flopped a couple times might be seen as an open door for problems in the future. So while we're all sitting here talking, we'd like to clear this one up once and for all......
So some of the arguments I heard during the parliamentary debate are perfectly valid, in that WB undoubtedly took full advantage of the situation and used it to get what they wanted. But it wasn't John Key and it wasn't the protests that created the situation - it was the botched union action. So WB, being much much better at this game, used the industrial action for a little action of their own to gain advantage. Does that make WB the bad guys? It makes them just what they are: a big company that knows how to play hardball without ruining their own game (unions take note). John Key saved some advantage for NZ out of the wreckage, and there probably wasn't much else he could do other than kiss the Hobbit goodbye and be blamed for that. The unions have now lost this battle twice over, in the public eye and in the Parliament.
The following is pure speculation on my part, but I've begun to wonder if the reason NZ Equity went after the Hobbit in the first place was precisely because they thought it was unassailable and untouchable and therefore a safe bet to attack and get publicity out of in their attempt to address problems with the industry as a whole. PJ is such a giant in NZ, I think it never occurred to them that they could actually bring down the production, hence their baffled protests of innocent and relatively minor intentions during the last month. Along comes the head of the Australian union, calling a boycott they apparently never actually asked for(!), for reasons best known to himself, and drops a tanker's worth of gasoline on their little protest flame. Turns out the giant has a weakness after all, which is the need to keep the trust of the studio, the even bigger giant in the cave across the ocean. Before NZ Equity knew it, all attention was focused on the wounded giant, the really huge giant had arrived on the scene waving a big club and demanding apologies and restitution all 'round or else, and any chance of their being heard in the commotion was utterly gone. The urgency derives from the spectacle of a very large giant with a very large club and the mob of public opinion fueled by media attention waving torches and pitchforks. I'm sure it seems rather urgent to make it all go away as quickly as possible. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we found ourselves where we are today.
"Of all faces those of our familiares are the ones both most difficult to play fantastic tricks with, and most difficult really to see with fresh attention. They have become like the things which once attracted us by their glitter, or their colour, or their shape, and we laid hands on them, and then locked them in our hoard, acquired them, and acquiring ceased to look at them.
Creative fantasy, because it is mainly trying to do something else [make something new], may open your hoard and let all the locked things fly away like cage-birds. The gems all turn into flowers or flames, and you will be warned that all you had (or knew) was dangerous and potent, not really effectively chained, free and wild; no more yours than they were you." -On Fairy Stories