Turning Up the Heat: Studios Respond to Union Beef Over The Hobbit

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The pressure against the MEAA is mounting, as New Line, Warner Bros. and MGM release a statement detracting the accusations against Peter Jackson's production of The Hobbit, which were made public via a SAG Member Alert on Friday. The Austrailain actors' union MEAA has accused the production of refusing to engage performers in union-negotiated agreements.

The Hobbit Poster Comp

Peter Jackson responded to the MEAA threats on Sunday, making a statement against the allegations, which the studios seem to support. So what does this mean? Well, judging by the response from the producers and the studios, it would seem that The Hobbit is in danger of leaving New Zealand altogether, unless the MEAA backs off.

Check out the full press release from the studios after the jump.

New Line, Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures are concerned by the recent allegations of unfair treatment of actors in New Zealand and instructions from the performers' guilds to their membership to withhold services from the producers of "The Hobbit" in New Zealand. We are proud to have good relations with all of those performers' guilds and value their contribution to the motion pictures produced in their respective jurisdictions throughout the world. But we believe that in this case the allegations are baseless and unfair to Peter Jackson and his team in Wellington who have been tireless supporters of the New Zealand motion picture community.

To classify the production as "non-union" is inaccurate. The cast and crew are being engaged under collective bargaining agreements where applicable and we are mindful of the rights of those individuals pursuant to those agreements. And while we have previously worked with MEAA, an Australian union now seeking to represent actors in New Zealand, the fact remains that there cannot be any collective bargaining with MEAA on this New Zealand production, for to do so would expose the production to liability and sanctions under New Zealand law. This legal prohibition has been explained to MEAA. We are disappointed that MEAA has nonetheless continued to pursue this course of action.

Motion picture production requires the certainty that a production can reasonably proceed without disruption and it is our general policy to avoid filming in locations where there is potential for work force uncertainty or other forms of instability. As such, we are exploring all alternative options in order to protect our business interests.

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