As is pretty much standard practice for movies filming anywhere but LA these days (and hardly anyone shoots movies in LA anymore), the New Zealand government hooked up Warner Bros and the producers of The Hobbit trilogy with some valuable subsidies and tax breaks to keep the production in the country. The $67 million in tax breaks surely bought a production that was a boon to the local economy, employing an army of locals to hot glue mo-cap sensors to the crotch of Andy Serkis’ leotards, in parts of the country where the biggest industry is normally library book late fees. But now, like a lot of us who gave money in exchange for The Hobbit, some Kiwis, including prominent politicians, want their money back.
“Now the first movie has grossed more than $1 billion, Warner Brothers should repay the $67 million subsidy the movie moguls sucked from Kiwi taxpayers,” [leader of the NZ First political party Winston Peters] said. [StuffNZ]
Specifically at issue was Prime Minister John Keys’ claim, when pushing the subsidies, that the production would create “3,000 jobs.” Peters has since uncovered correspondence between Keys and Peter Jackson’s production company that he says proves that the number was plucked out of the air. The emails are his “smoking plum,” in New Zealand parlance, where the secret to gunpowder has not yet been discovered.
“The Government claims that filming The Hobbit in New Zealand created an extra 3000 jobs and this was value for money to taxpayers, but documents from John Key’s office show this figure was plucked out of thin air. “Questions have to be answered about how many of these jobs existed prior to filming, how many of them will exist once the final film has premiered, and how many of these jobs actually went to New Zealanders.”
Aw, it’ll take a little advertising, but once the people in Hollywood learn that near-television quality production studios and an army of unskilled-but-super polite craftsmen is just a 26-hour flight away, all those jobs will return and then some!