Peter Jackson issued a quick response that put the smack down on the union claims in great detail. Although the BBC's report states that "seven unions in the US, Australia, the UK and Canada said producers refused to negotiate a deal with them," Jackson places the blame squarely at the feet of the MEAA, which is the Australian Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, even though the NZ Actors' Equity is also involved in the dispute.
Jackson's statement reads, "The Australian Labour Union, the MEAA is using our production 'The Hobbit' in an attempt to widen it's [sic] membership, and power within the New Zealand film industry. As a New Zealand filmmaker, who has nothing to hide or be ashamed about, I'm not going to see this threatening behaviour continue without some form of sensible discussion about the 'facts' and 'truth' behind their various allegations."
The director's bullet-point list of problems with the MEAA's claims are somewhat beyond the ken (or interest) of someone not involved in union disputes; the more interesting question is whether or not Jackson will follow through on his statement's threat to move to Eastern Europe for filming. As Jackson's films and Weta Digital studio have brought in a huge amount of income and jobs to New Zealand, can the Kiwi union really afford to call his bluff? And would its big budget stars actually take part in the boycott?
Of course, this is assuming that 'The Hobbit's crew can ever get their stuff together enough to actually make the film, which has been in turmoil for years. Just looking at the newsfeed for the film can give you a rundown of its countless issues, from Guillermo del Toro ditching directorial duties after years in a production holding pattern to money problems with MGM and New Line. And del Toro isn't the only one who finally threw up his hands and quit -- Gandalf himself, Sir Ian McKellen, has been sounding pretty iffy on how long he'll be waiting around to return to Middle Earth, as well.
Do you think that Jackson will move 'The Hobbit' to Eastern Europe, if the film and studios ever get their act together? Will it makes a difference in the final product? And do you think that the major talent associated with the film will still be available to be in the film? Sound off below.