The Hollywood Reporter says today that Warner Bros.’ New Line unit has warned that disclosure of sensitive Hobbit communications between the company and the New Zealand government would be a “major disincentive” to future production in this country.
The Reporter’s article (which first refers to the Ombudsman as ‘a New Zealand official,”) tells its US readers:
Ruling on requests filed in the wake of the 2010 attempt to unionize actors on The Hobbit, a New Zealand official has effectively ordered the release of confidential communications between New Line, Peter Jackson’s Wingnut Films and government ministers, all of which opposed the unionization attempt as well as the document requests.
The ruling quotes New Line as saying that some of the documents reflect the company’s “negotiations and innermost thinking, including certain strategic decisions, legal and personal opinions, offers from third party governments and other private information.”
The Jan. 31 ruling, by the country’s Ombudsman, is styled as a recommendation, but the recommendation matures on approximately March 1 into a “public duty” imposed on the government. Thus, documents will apparently be disclosed by that date, absent extraordinary action to the contrary by Queen Elizabeth’s representative in New Zealand, the Governor-General.
The objection by New Line included a warning, as quoted in the ruling: “If the government is not willing to adequately protect this sensitive information from disclosure, this will operate as a major disincentive to motion picture studios as well as local and foreign talent – to utilize New Zealand as a location for future productions.” A studio spokesperson declined to comment.
Wingnut was also quoted in the ruling as being highly critical of possible release of documents: “I can categorically assure you that if the above information was released and a similar situation occur in the future, neither myself nor Wingnut Films would be inclined to help the Government again with such a candid level of advice and opinion.” The ruling did not indicate whether “I” referred to Jackson.
The Ombudsman’s decision has ruled that the Government must release 18 more Hobbit documents. The full wording of the ruling is here.
The full coverage in the Hollywood Reporter is here