Monthly Archives: September 2010

Hobbits Versus MEAA

This Ought To Be Even Better

I present to you, this link:

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has joined the Screen Actors Guild and a group of six other international labour unions in calling for a boycott of the movie on the grounds that actors may be employed on inferior non-union contracts.

The MEAA claims to have support from A-listers Cate Blanchett, Sir Ian McKellen and Hugo Weaving, who are said to be involved in $US150 million The Hobbit project.

In an extraordinary step last night, the notoriously media shy Jackson issued an angry four-page statement accusing the Australian-based MEAA of trying to cash in on the success of the New Zealand film industry by holding movie studio Warner Brothers to ransom.

“I can’t see beyond the ugly spectre of an Australian bully-boy using what he perceives as his weak Kiwi cousins to gain a foothold in this country’s film industry. They want greater membership, since they get to increase their bank balance,” Jackson said.

“I feel growing anger at the way this tiny minority is endangering a project that hundreds of people have worked on over the last two years, and the thousands about to be employed for the next four years, [and] the hundreds of millions of Warner Brothers dollars that is about to be spent in our economy.”

I can see both sides of this argument, so I feel rather ill at ease to go into any kind of commentary. Needless to say, it sucks that Peter Jackson would put actors on crappy contracts to save some money, but it also sucks that the MEAA is calling to boycott the film. Both sides have a point and in all honesty you would expect this stuff could get resolved in the negotiating room as opposed on the front pages.

In it all though was this tangential tidbit:

Jackson said the MEAA was using a “small minority” of New Zealand actors to demand that Warner Brothers negotiate an umbrella agreement with all actors on the project – terms the studio could not possibly meet.

“I’ve been told that Disney are no longer bring movies to Australia because of their frustration with the MEAA,” Jackson said.

Not sure why Warner Brothers can’t meet these terms, to be honest. The second bit about Disney is also revealing. It might be more the case that the US film studios are simply too used to exploiting everybody it finds it amazing that a union would say ‘no’. Mind you, the MEAA’s stance probably has done tremendous harm to the Australian film industry so it’s questionable such tough stances are such a good thing. It’s sort of pathetic, when you look at it, with Peter Jackson caught in the middle.

The MEAA really should be picking on actual, authentically/genuinely/truly exploitative bodies like VEA. I mean, whatever happened to that fracas?

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