Hobbit Movie May be Delayed by Union Pressure

I have previously noted Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson’s plans to produce a movie based on The Hobbit. Sadly, the production of the film has been delayed by various factors. The latest obstacle is labor union opposition [HT: Danny Sokol]:

You can be forgiven for being skeptical that “The Hobbit” will ever be made. Back in October 2007, Entertainment Weekly announced on its cover that Peter Jackson would be putting together a prequel to his “Lord of the Rings” films based on the J. R. R. Tolkien book series. Since then, everything has gone wrong: Jackson sued New Line over the rights to the film; the Tolkien family then sued them as well; MGM, one of the two studios planning to distribute the film, ran into the money woes…; Guillermo Del Toro, who was supposed to direct, worked with Jackson for two years before dropping out last May and handing the reins back to him. With Jackson taking over, and Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis and Hugo Weaving signed on to reprise their roles, the film was expected to finally be back on schedule.

But now Jackson has a more serious problem: The International Federation of Actors, along with the Screen Actors Guild, is discouraging actors to work on the film because of the non-union labor in New Zealand. This is serious business for SAG: Essentially, actors who work on the film, like McKellen and Weaving, would be in violation of the union’s bylaws and subject to expulsion from the union. The Hollywood Reporter notes just how rare it is for SAG to be so strident about a big-studio picture.

Jackson himself smells an Australian plot behind the labor problems:

Jackson said the wrangle was a “grab for power” and “an attempt by the “Australian bully-boy” to exert influence over New Zealand’s film industry. “It feels as if we have a large Aussie cousin kicking sand in our eyes… or to put it another way, opportunists exploiting our film for their own political gain.”

It would be very unfortunate if nassty unionses or Aussiessss hurtss my Preciousss movie!