As Warner Bros. executives arrive in the country, let's put to bed the concept that the studio would waste its time manufacturing a crisis and look at the economic realities
I saw on TV last week actor Robyn Malcolm explaining that there was never an intention to cause mayhem over the Hobbit. "All we wanted to do was have a talk over wages and conditions," she said.
And all I want for Christmas is world peace and to end hunger.
In a thousand lifetimes the members of the actors' union will not do for others what Jackson has accomplished. His creation of jobs, tax, tourism and career opportunities is unparalleled. And it is not his undoubted directorial skills that has made the real difference, it is his unmatched ability to generate the enormous investment to make seriously competitive movies.
New Zealand movies, before Jackson, must surely have been a huge cost to the taxpayer on average and in net terms. Many should never have been made as they were never going to create an audience and were just self indulgent twaddle.
All of the members of the actors' union executive have, throughout their careers, enormously benefited by a diverse range of subsidies from the taxpayer. None of them can say that over their careers they have created more wealth than they consumed.
I have no problem that they are fiscally naive, but they do not have a right to jeopardize the wealth creation of those who aren't.
Actors' Equity are being disingenuous in the extreme by trying to claim that "all we wanted was to talk". No they didn't, they wanted to force Jackson to agree to conditions that they could then impose on the rest of the film industry. The CTU confirmed that.
When Jackson chose not to break employment law and also destroy the less well-off local film industry (he had, as he said, no mandate to negotiate for them) they immediately called a strike.
Warner Brothers are making an investment of half a billion dollars (real dollars that is not Mickey Mouse Kiwi dollars) and of course want the best deal they can get. For some reason they want to minimise their risk in a highly speculative endeavour and some consider that unreasonable!
If New Zealand actors are going to strike, then why would you stay? It is time that all actors in New Zealand should be fair and agree to not be paid for their work but be on a profit share basis – if the film makes money they win and if it loses money they get nothing. That would educate them on the principles of risk and rewards!
Then we saw real dishonesty from the CTU and left wing commentators by claiming as fact, without a shred of hard evidence, that Warner Bros. either wanted to go somewhere cheaper or were looking for more tax breaks. The money that Warners has already spent here gives the lie to the former and Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee was unequivocal that Warners had not asked for any further tax breaks.
As is their legal obligation to their investors, Warner Bros. will always endeavour to get the best deal they can, but it is the height of absurdity to think that a global corporation would feel the need to engineer a crisis so they can leave for somewhere cheaper or where they can get better tax breaks.
It is unbelievably stupid to think that they would feel any need to create a crisis – they operate in one of the most competitive fields in the global economy and are consequently very tough. All they had to do if that was their intention was just get on the phone and say they were pulling out to go somewhere cheaper or they would have asked the government directly for a better deal.
Only those completely divorced from the business world would think that they saw a need to manufacture a fuss. The only possible reason would be if they cared about what the public think! The New Zealand public are some of the most fiscally illiterate people in any first world country, so why would their opinion be of any value whatsoever?
In such a highly competitive world most countries understand the principal of risk and reward and are only to happy to offer Warner Bros. a better deal. Jackson is the only thing New Zealand has going for it that all the other countries don't.
To have lifetime wealth consumers with no corporate business experience trying to understand large scale commercial realities just doesn't work, as has been amply demonstrated here.
If Warners do take the Hobbit then I look forward to the actors' union and the CTU putting something in its place.