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New Zealand protests to keep "The Hobbit"
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Thousands of New Zealanders have taken to the streets to demand that a couple of films in the “Hobbit” franchise continue filming in New Zealand. Peter Jackson’s trilogy — “Lord of the Rings” — means a lot to the New Zealand economy there, to the tune of as much as $1.5 billion. But now union demands have film execs threatening to make the sequel someplace else.
The BBC’s Rebecca Singer reports.
REBECCA SINGER: Some protesters turned up as characters from “Lord of the Rings.” Others carried placards reading “New Zealand is Middle Earth” and “We Love Hobbits”. They came to demand production of the new Hobbit films remain in their country. The New Zealand movie industry is worth more than $2 billion a year and there are fears it could be severely damaged. A statement from the film’s director Sir Peter Jackson was read out to the crowd.
STATEMENT: New Zealand is where “The Hobbit” films should be made. The creative DNA is here. This is where Middle Earth was born, and this is where it should stay.
The protests coincide with the arrival of Warner Brothers executives, who have flown to the country for talks on Tuesday to determine the fate of the films. Even though the union has canceled a strike, the studio says it’s still considering other location, like the U.K.
Neither the studio nor the government are disclose what it will take to ensure the production stays in New Zealand. Filming, wherever it is, is set to start in February.
In London, I’m the BBC’s Rebecca Singer for Marketplace.