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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Media Release: Peter Jackson Speaks Actor Boycott of “The Hobbit” (From the Home Page)
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Altaira
Superuser / Moderator


Sep 30 2010, 3:07pm

Post #1 of 79 (2510 views)
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Media Release: Peter Jackson Speaks Actor Boycott of “The Hobbit” (From the Home Page) Can't Post

WELLINGTON – Friday, 1 October 2010 An Australian trade union, the MEAA, has generated a world wide actor boycott on The Hobbit, to bolster their demand that producers on the film enter into collective bargaining with the NZ Equity/MEAA. The MEAA has now admitted that their collective bargaining proposal is in fact, illegal, under New Zealand law. In Sir Peter Jackson’s opinion “The Hobbit is being punished with a boycott which is endangering thousands of NZ jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign income, for no good reason.”

The attack on The Hobbit by NZ Actors Equity and the MEAA has resulted in a very public dispute, between NZ Equity and the producers of The Hobbit. The actors are claiming they are underpaid and do not enjoy the same working conditons as their overseas counterparts. This accusation that has been levelled specifically at The Hobbit, but Sir Peter Jackson says it has no basis in fact.

“The MEAA’s campaign against The Hobbit has nothing to do with the way Wingnut Films has treated actors and everything to do with using The Hobbit to bring publicity to the MEAA’s cause” said Sir Peter. “They do not seem to care about the damage they have done to our film or for that matter, to the New Zealand film industry in general. This is about nothing more than leveraging our movie for politcal gain.”

After days of explanation and legal opinions, including one from the Crown Law Office, Jennifer Ward-Lealand of NZ Equity has admitted that the MEAA’s demands to enter into collective bargaining are in fact illegal. The producers of The Hobbit say that their refusal to enter into illegal negotiations with the MEAA is the reason the film is blacklisted worldwide. “I have been waiting to hear some kind of explanation for the needless damage NZ Equity/MEAA has done to our film, but nothing has been forthcoming. While the MEAA has admitted their blacklisting of The Hobbit has no legal foundation, they have done nothing to remove the ban on the film. “I am amazed that hundreds of millions of dollars of potential income for New Zealand, has been put at risk by a tiny group people who did not even bother to do their legal homework.”

Sir Peter goes on to say: “This situation is bordering on farce because The Hobbit has been falsely accused of being a “non-union” production – by NZ Equity, who themselves have been struck off the register of Incorporated Societies, having lost their union status. It would be laughable, if there weren’t so much at stake. But there is nothing funny about people losing their jobs and the crippling effect that losing The Hobbit is going to have on our film industry” said Sir Peter.

Sir Peter felt compelled to respond to the mounting criticism in the press that his films pay actors low wages. “For years our company WingNut Films has hired actors on terms and conditions that are among the best and most generous in New Zealand. We have always treated cast and crew with kindness and respect, because it is the right thing to do, not because it is enshrined in an industry code of practice. I am a firm supporter of unions but when a tiny minority is empowered to endanger the livelihoods of so many people, something is very wrong.”

In New Zealand, Actors rates are based on the length of a film shoot, the size and prominence of a role, the actor’s level of experience, the actor’s name recognition and the actor’s past fee – among other things. These are all variables in determining individual pay rates and contract negotiations.

Sir Peter says that over the last 10 years, the fees NZ actors have earned on WingNut Films productions have been “consistently fair and generous”. “If an NZ actor is contracted to appear for ‘run of picture’ in a small supporting role, they would attract at a fee of around NZ $5000 per week. Looking at the current published rates of the Screen Actor’s Guild of America (which is the gold standard to which NZ Equity aspires), the SAG weekly minimum for the same role and time commitment is NZ $3,800 per week. Therefore Wingnut Films pays NZ actors approx $1,200 per week more than his (or her) US counterpart.”

Sir Peter says that ten years ago, in 1999, he asked New Line to cast Karl Urban in the role of Eomer in The Lord of the Rings. “The studio were insisting we cast a US actor in the role, but I went into bat for Karl – who had no marquee value in the US market at that time,- because I believed he was the best person for the role. Back then, we would typically pay an actor in a role of that size $1600 a day or $10,000 per week. Again, this rate is higher than the SAG minimum.”

NZ Actors, who do not belong to SAG, have never had any profit participation, or residuals, as they are called in the industry. However, Sir Peter says that Warner Brothers has agreed to provide a pot of money for NZ actors to share from the proceeds of the two Hobbit films. “This pot of money is not reliant on the film earning a profit, it comes from box office income, regardless of how well the films perform.”
Sir Peter maintains the residuals on The Hobbit will be worth ‘very real money’ to the Kiwi actors who are cast in the film.

“This is the first time ever NZ actors have had residuals, and we are proud that it’s being introduced on our movie. The level of residuals is better than a similar scheme in Canada, and is much the same as the UK residual scheme. It is not quite as much as the SAG rate.”

Sir Peter dismisses the suggestion that The Hobbit is moving to Eastern Europe because it is cheaper to make films over there. “People are claiming this is the reason the film is moving off shore. It’s completely absurd! Eastern Europe is only being considered because a minority group of the NZ acting community have invoked union action that has blacklisted our film, making it impossible to shoot in New Zealand. It is not an issue in any other country.”

Eastern Europe is one of six locales that Warners are currently investigating as alternative bases to set up the production. “Nobody wants to take The Hobbit off shore, but every day we are blacklisted costs Warners money and the studio is now moving to protect it’s investment.” said Sir Peter.

“It is very naive to think that we have much say in what happens from this point on. Warners gave us an opportunity to set the film up in New Zealand and we have been unable to do that successfully. Warners are cash flowing these films to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars and they will now decide how, and eventually where, this money is spent.”

Sir Peter goes on to say “In a television interview our friend, Bruce Hopkins, (who appeared as Gamling in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy) said that he failed to understand why myself and SPADA would not even meet with NZ Equity when he considered it possible to come to an agreement that was acceptable to all.” Sir Peter says SPADA has been trying to meet with the NZ Equity/MEAA for over 18 months and every invitation to meet to discuss actor’s contracts has been rebuffed by the union “for various reasons.” Sir Peter goes on to say “Bruce is right, that meeting needs to happen, it is the only logical way to solve this dispute. SPADA represents the film producers of New Zealand and is this is only organisation in the country who can negotiate actor’s terms and conditions with NZ Equity.”

“The MEAA needs to stop playing games and to sit down at the negotiating table with SPADA. This needs to be resolved and quickly for everyone’s sake.”


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(This post was edited by Altaira on Sep 30 2010, 4:41pm)


sphdle1
Gondor


Sep 30 2010, 3:20pm

Post #2 of 79 (1400 views)
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In Summary SPADA must meet with MEAA...timing is critical! [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Tim
Tol Eressea


Sep 30 2010, 3:27pm

Post #3 of 79 (1409 views)
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PJ has also responded to the actors who are taking sides publicly [In reply to] Can't Post

and he's releasing details about pay.

Karl Urban is of course entitled to his opinion. But that dude has nothing but benefited from PJ and the LOTR production. I would like to see him give PJ a bit more of the benefit of the doubt in this. *waves magic wand*

King Arthur: Who are you who can summon fire without flint or tinder?
Tim: There are some who call me... Tim.


squire
Half-elven


Sep 30 2010, 3:52pm

Post #4 of 79 (1397 views)
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With no disrespect [In reply to] Can't Post

It is only natural that Jackson should present his side of things in the best possible light. But it is disingenuous to compare specific deals given the non-union actors in LotR to the Screen Actors Guild's "minimum" rates for union acting within SAG's jurisdiction. SAG like all artist unions sees its roll as setting irreducible minimums in its contracts, to protect its least influential members. But it can not and does not ignore the essentially free-lance nature of acting. In fact in any venue different actors will be paid differently not just on the basis of their roles and the film's budget, but on the basis of what the actor will, by reputation and known talent, bring to the film. A minimum is just that; most actors of any quality and experience get more; and there is no way to say what the LotR actors, whether principals or supporting actors, known and unknown, would have gotten under an SAG contract had there been one in force in New Zealand at that time. The same goes in spades for his current budget for talent for The Hobbit, and that uncertainty is what is fueling his anger here.

Jackson more and more sounds to me like a common phenomenon in labor history: the boss who treats his workers right, according to his conscience and humanity, and deeply resents being classed as an exploiter by union organizers who appear unsolicited in his shop. The organizers, in turn, may even acknowledge the boss's individual efforts, but insist that if they don't unionize the single biggest employer in town, they will never be able to protect their members from those far more prevalent bosses who are less ... interested in the long-term welfare of their labor force.

Again, I realize the fondness most here have for Mr. Jackson, and I too admire him in many ways. I do not see these clumsy-seeming unions as heroes or villains, any more than I do Jackson. But this is not really about him. Because of who he is in New Zealand he is just now at the media center of a much bigger story about the future of feature film-making worldwide.



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macfalk
Valinor


Sep 30 2010, 4:18pm

Post #5 of 79 (1376 views)
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Okay, hands down, here we have it - the real and only reason for the delays of greenlighting: [In reply to] Can't Post

"SPADA would not even meet with NZ Equity when he considered it possible to come to an agreement that was acceptable to all.” Sir Peter says SPADA has been trying to meet with the NZ Equity/MEAA for over 18 months and every invitation to meet to discuss actor’s contracts has been rebuffed by the union “for various reasons."

Crystal clear.



Tim
Tol Eressea


Sep 30 2010, 4:22pm

Post #6 of 79 (1306 views)
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I respect your opinion [In reply to] Can't Post

But if this claim PJ makes that for 18 months SPADA has been reaching out to the union - then this move is even more dirtbag-ish. Ya know what I mean? It may not be true though.

King Arthur: Who are you who can summon fire without flint or tinder?
Tim: There are some who call me... Tim.


phredegar
Bree

Sep 30 2010, 4:24pm

Post #7 of 79 (1296 views)
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Dumbo [In reply to] Can't Post

Wouldn't it be nice - or maybe apposite - if some reference were made to these troubles in The Hobbit movie. I'm reminded of Walt Disney combating with union delays which is lampooned (if you look carefully) in the delayed movie, Dumbo, itself. Shades of Oliphaunts...

...sorry had to lighten the mood - this Union business is all very dark and miserable...


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Sep 30 2010, 4:27pm

Post #8 of 79 (1305 views)
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Yes we finally know what the "politics" that GdT referred is // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

www.arda-reconstructed.com


Junesong
Rivendell

Sep 30 2010, 4:29pm

Post #9 of 79 (1301 views)
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Public makes Pressure makes Progress? [In reply to] Can't Post

Whether or not this has been going on for 18 months maybe the fact that it's public and loud now will make a difference? We're angry - and I live in Canada with no stake in the project beyond having saved two movie sized slots on my shelf for the inevitable Hobbit films. So maybe if every step of this process is public it will make things go by quicker?

"Tim... Canterbury... Canterbury Tales... Chaucer."


Eruonen
Valinor

Sep 30 2010, 4:29pm

Post #10 of 79 (1278 views)
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So what are the next steps? [In reply to] Can't Post

What will break the log jam? How is this resolved?

I don't expect anything to happen until the MGM mess is cleared up and then formally the issue will be addressed.
IF that takes place this month...now October (time flies)...things may be sorted out in time for Jan...unless the bean counters pull the plug on NZ (doubt it).


macfalk
Valinor


Sep 30 2010, 4:38pm

Post #11 of 79 (1278 views)
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Remember what Bilbo used to say. No, but, remember what New Line said: [In reply to] Can't Post

"MGM situation has nothing to do with the fate of The Hobbit"

It appears clear that NL has some sort of clauses which I wont stretch myself any further on, Voronwe and K.Thompson knows a lot more about that than I do. No, this is the real reason to why they cannot green light the movie - simply because of the huge deal of not being able to sign actors!


Kangi Ska
Half-elven


Sep 30 2010, 4:51pm

Post #12 of 79 (1277 views)
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SPADA will meet with New Zealand Actors Equity [In reply to] Can't Post

this is a New Zealand issue not Australian.

Kangi Ska

Make the Hobbit Happen Now!

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Lark
The Shire


Sep 30 2010, 5:00pm

Post #13 of 79 (1265 views)
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So pleased [In reply to] Can't Post

I am REALLY pleased to see those figures in this statement about how NZ actors are paid by Wingnut. I take back any jaded assumptions I made that they were not paid well, and am actually floored and amazed. Hope the ban is lifted soon.


Hellmistress
Lorien


Sep 30 2010, 5:07pm

Post #14 of 79 (1283 views)
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But ... [In reply to] Can't Post

... they do not get residuals, which is often the bread and butter of a contract. The $1,000 or so that they get paid more than the SAG minimum is nothing to what they might get in residuals, which are part of a regular contract in the US, Canada, the UK and Australia, as far as I'm aware.

HM


In Reply To
I am REALLY pleased to see those figures in this statement about how NZ actors are paid by Wingnut. I take back any jaded assumptions I made that they were not paid well, and am actually floored and amazed. Hope the ban is lifted soon.



Tim
Tol Eressea


Sep 30 2010, 5:23pm

Post #15 of 79 (1238 views)
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His statement mentions residuals [In reply to] Can't Post

From the above statement:

NZ Actors, who do not belong to SAG, have never had any profit participation, or residuals, as they are called in the industry. However, Sir Peter says that Warner Brothers has agreed to provide a pot of money for NZ actors to share from the proceeds of the two Hobbit films. “This pot of money is not reliant on the film earning a profit, it comes from box office income, regardless of how well the films perform.”

Sir Peter maintains the residuals on The Hobbit will be worth ‘very real money’ to the Kiwi actors who are cast in the film.

“This is the first time ever NZ actors have had residuals, and we are proud that it’s being introduced on our movie. The level of residuals is better than a similar scheme in Canada, and is much the same as the UK residual scheme. It is not quite as much as the SAG rate.”


So I guess they do get residuals.


King Arthur: Who are you who can summon fire without flint or tinder?
Tim: There are some who call me... Tim.


Lark
The Shire


Sep 30 2010, 6:24pm

Post #16 of 79 (1187 views)
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yes but [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, but for non union actors, it is still a good deal. (Speaking as a Canadian here) if they wanted to,they could be paying them much less. I think they are setting a great example.


Pipe Dream
Gondor


Sep 30 2010, 6:54pm

Post #17 of 79 (1265 views)
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TVNZ has a new article [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
"We will take our collective views of our Auckland and Wellington members to our national performers committee next week to decide on the next step."


TVNZ Link

Photobucket

Pre-Pre-production goes ever on and on...


Tim
Tol Eressea


Sep 30 2010, 7:03pm

Post #18 of 79 (1200 views)
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Flabbergasted [In reply to] Can't Post

The Hobbit's producers contacted the MEAA and Actors Equity yesterday morning with an offer to attend the Wellington meeting in the hope of finding a solution to the dispute. After sending several requests asking for a response, the producers were finally told "no" shortly before the meeting started.

Wait ... what? Wasn't this EXACTLY what they (the union) was asking for?


King Arthur: Who are you who can summon fire without flint or tinder?
Tim: There are some who call me... Tim.


Doriath
Rivendell


Sep 30 2010, 7:04pm

Post #19 of 79 (1200 views)
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Will the union really want..... [In reply to] Can't Post

to create a worldwide army of people who hate their guts for doing this?

The Trees will have their revenge!


duats
Grey Havens

Sep 30 2010, 7:19pm

Post #20 of 79 (1151 views)
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A great big LOL [In reply to] Can't Post

So let me get this straight.

Several days after the fact, the NZ Actors Equity and MEAA admit that their proposal has no legal standing - demonstrating their inability to do even the most basic homework. So now they look like those guys who make groundless accusations and risky moves without having the facts straight. .

At the same time, when the producers of The Hobbit offer to meet with them, which is what the unions wanted from the get-go, they are told "no."

Have to say, these unions continue to make proper idiots out of themselves. Jackson is absolutely right. The way that this situation is being handled is nothing short of laughable. I called them irresponsible and unprofessional. Add stubborn to the list.


Hellmistress
Lorien


Sep 30 2010, 7:24pm

Post #21 of 79 (1162 views)
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I'm not talking about ... [In reply to] Can't Post

.. THE HOBBIT - in general, NZ actors do NOT get residuals as a norm contractually, as I said before. Whatever PJ and Warner Bros offer as a one-time thing, it isn't a NZ actor's right to get residuals, as it is elsewhere. Just because they may get them as a single offer on TH, it doesn't guarantee residuals for ALL, which is what all of this is about. It's not about short-term gain for a few actors - it's about long term gain for EVERY NZ actor. And let's face it, if they were kicking up a stink about this on any other film than THE HOBBIT, I'm pretty sure the majority of the anti-union chat on this board wouldn't exist.

HM



In Reply To
From the above statement:

NZ Actors, who do not belong to SAG, have never had any profit participation, or residuals, as they are called in the industry. However, Sir Peter says that Warner Brothers has agreed to provide a pot of money for NZ actors to share from the proceeds of the two Hobbit films. “This pot of money is not reliant on the film earning a profit, it comes from box office income, regardless of how well the films perform.”

Sir Peter maintains the residuals on The Hobbit will be worth ‘very real money’ to the Kiwi actors who are cast in the film.

“This is the first time ever NZ actors have had residuals, and we are proud that it’s being introduced on our movie. The level of residuals is better than a similar scheme in Canada, and is much the same as the UK residual scheme. It is not quite as much as the SAG rate.”


So I guess they do get residuals.



duats
Grey Havens

Sep 30 2010, 7:31pm

Post #22 of 79 (1128 views)
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I'm not criticizing their goals [In reply to] Can't Post

On the contrary. What these unions are fighting for is a good cause.

It's how they've gone about obtaining it that is sparking my criticisms. Sloppy, misinformed, and cynical.


Doriath
Rivendell


Sep 30 2010, 7:47pm

Post #23 of 79 (1098 views)
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Right [In reply to] Can't Post

For the record, I'm not anti union and my work is union work. It's one of the reasons I chose the job. I live in Washington state where they can fire you at will if it's a non union job. I wanted more security in a job. There can be downsides to unions and I've seen it. People can fairly easily be slackers on the job while the rest of us work our butts off and it's hard to get rid of those employees sometimes. I totally agree however that in this case these guys are going about things all wrong. Way wrong. I don't think everyone and everything needs to be held hostage to get their agenda out there.

The Trees will have their revenge!


Lark
The Shire


Sep 30 2010, 7:50pm

Post #24 of 79 (1090 views)
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I agree with you Hellmistress [In reply to] Can't Post

I love the fact that there is SOMETHING happening for NZ actors, it's not everything but maybe this is the beginning of something? I hope so. I agree with you though, I do hope something gets worked out in the long term.


Zizix
Rivendell


Sep 30 2010, 7:55pm

Post #25 of 79 (1089 views)
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What I don't get [In reply to] Can't Post

No one has been cast for the Hobbit movies, right? No actors can be offerend any contracts until the movies are greenlit.


Quote

The actors are claiming they are underpaid and do not enjoy the same working conditons as their overseas counterparts. This accusation that has been levelled specifically at The Hobbit, but Sir Peter Jackson says it has no basis in fact.


So how exactly does them being underpaid and not enjoying good enough working conditions, have anything to do with The Hobbit? They just think that that might happen once contracts are being signed.

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