Hobbit crisis talks end without resolution

  • Published

Crisis talks between New Zealand's prime minister and Hollywood studio executives have ended with no decision on where The Hobbit will be filmed.

There is deadlock with Warner Bros over whether the Lord of the Rings prequels should be shot in the country.

Last month, acting unions threatened to boycott the films in a row over wages - damaging relations with Warner Bros.

It follows protests by thousands of New Zealanders against possible plans to move production of the films elsewhere.

Prime Minister John Key met 10 Warner Bros executives, including New Line Cinema boss Toby Emmerich, at his official residence in Wellington.

He said the talks were constructive, but the likelihood of the films remaining in New Zealand was still no greater than 50-50.

Mr Key said the sticking point was "unquestionably" the uncertainty in industrial relations.

"They [the executives] have a lot of goodwill towards New Zealand, but there's no question that the industrial action caused concern on their side.

"If it wasn't for the industrial action, they [Warner Bros] were good to go," he was quoted by the New Zealand Herald as saying.

He said the talks would reconvene later and that he expects a decision in the next 24 to 36 hours.

In a studio statement issued last week, Warner Bros said that the action by the acting unions had "forced us to consider other filming locations for the first time".

The three Lord of the Rings movies, which were all filmed in New Zealand, earned billions of dollars at the box office.

Filming on the two-part prequel is set to begin in February after it was finally given the go-ahead. British actor Martin Freeman was confirmed in the lead role of Bilbo Baggins.