I’ve had an illusion shattered this week. I always thought of Peter Jackson as an ordinary guy made good who hadn’t let success make him an elitist prick. It looks like I was wrong.
New Zealand taxpayers contributed hundreds of millions to his Lord of the Rings trilogy and what thanks do we get? The threat of capital flight if wage costs don’t stay down.
Jackson says that, if the alliance of actors’ unions insist on better wages for The Hobbit, he will take the production out of New Zealand to Eastern Europe.
Funny that a couple of days ago he was framing this as a nationalistic issue of a Australian ‘bully boy’ jealous of our film industry. Now, Jackson’s threatening to pull the cord on that industry if he doesn’t get his way.
It shows that, in reality, this has always been about cutting costs. Jackson doesn’t want to pay actors their fair share so he can pocket more in his cut of the profits.
Ultimately, the threat to go to Eastern Europe strikes me as hollow. Are Eastern European actors really un-unionised? And wouldn’t the international blacklisting of The Hobbit by the major stars apply there as well as here? I reckon the threat is really meant to scare us and the government.
It seems to me this is more of the same stand-over tactics that we get from all shades of capitalists: just replace The Hobbit with, say, Tiwai Point and cheap actors with cheap power.
Don’t be surprised if we see Jackson with his hand out wanting taxpayers to help ‘keep The Hobbit Kiwi’ in coming days.