ByAlisha Grauso, writer at
Editor-at-large here at Movie Pilot. Nerd out with me on Twitter, comrades: @alishagrauso
Alisha Grauso

For all of the legal wranglings that go on behind the scenes of movie-making, it's surprising we don't hear about these sorts of developments more frequently than we do. Sure, this is because studios generally put the kibosh on any sort of bad press or news of problems circulating around one of their films, and when Hollywood wants to keep something on lock-down, it will.

But Hollywood can't control everything, especially when it comes to the government. And so in a scandalous bit of news today, the New Zealand government released a series of emails between film studios, , and office staff. And man, it wasn't pretty. The emails revolve around the incident regarding Actors Equity and its Australian parent, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), blacklisting The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey back in 2010 after the filmmakers refused to negotiate employment contracts with the union, which only represented a handful of actors.

Peter Jackson and his wife, producer , well, they let their feelings be known regarding then-Actors Equity head, Simon Whipp, and AE plans to "target" The Hobbit "in order to leverage more support for their union and strengthen their position within the Australasian film industry":

This is not about Actors' Equity, nor is it about The Hobbit - it is about an Australian trade union making a blatant play to take a controlling hand in the NZ film industry for their own political and financial gain.

Later, after a meeting between Whipp and then-economic development minister, Gerry Brownlee, in which the union agreed to lift the blacklist conditions in exchange for new contracts, Jackson warned Brownlee:

Whipp has played you like a fool...Unfortunately, you engaged with a snake, who now feels quite fearless. He is in revenge mode, intent on inflicting as much damage as he can, to our film, to our film industry, to our country.

Yikes. Sir Peter was not at all happy. And, neither is Warner Bros, which had reportedly opposed the release of the emails, warning that their release would be "a major disincentive" to filming future productions in New Zealand.

The whole article is over at The Australian if you're into that sort of thing. It's a bit lengthy, but definitely interesting and well-worth a read.


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