Legions of Tolkien fans marched the streets of the NZ capital this morning (our time) dressed as characters from Middle Earth and carrying banners proclaiming “New Zealand is Middle Earth”. They were protesting after studio bosses hinted that they might take production to Ireland or Canada in light of the union disputes over pay and conditions.
Between two and three thousand people were thought to have gathered in Wellington ahead of a visit by executives from the studio execs, and similar demonstrations also took place in Auckland and Christchurch.
Jackson – a New Zealander himself – is due to start shooting in the new year, but a row with unions, although now resolved, could have damaged the chances of the director returning down under to continue his Middle Earth legacy. Warner are believed to be making the final decision later this week after Prime Minister John Key weighed in to the debate. However after talks with studio bosses, the PM rated the chances of the film staying in New Zealand as 50:50.
“I’d love to tell you it’s a done deal, but we’re a long way away from being a done deal,” Key said. “There are a number of issues that we’d need to resolve.”