Today’s meeting between New Line/Warner and the NZ government has ended inconclusively, with studio executives asking for larger incentives (tax breaks) and changes to labour laws to keep The Hobbit movies in NZ (link)
In Britain, for films with a core expenditure of more than £20 million, the film production company can claim a payable cash rebate of up to 20% of UK qualifying film production expenditure; New Zealand’s rebate is only 15%.
Given that most of the cast of The Hobbit films is British, and the Harry Potter set in England has recently become vacant, there is every possibility that the filming of Middle Earth may be headed for Britain.
Peter Jackson’s partner, Fran Walsh has already told RadioNZ “They have had people in the UK taking location photographs. They’ve got a huge studio there that Harry Potter has vacated, the ex-Rolls Royce factory, that they say would be perfect for us.”
Tolkien himself would not have been adverse to it being filmed in England either. He is said to have wanted a mythical ‘backstory’ for England
“I was from early days grieved by the poverty of my own beloved country: it had no stories of its own (bound up with its tongue and soil), not of the quality that I sought, and found (as an ingredient) in legends of other lands. There was Greek, and Celtic, and Romance, Germanic, Scandinavian, and Finnish (which greatly affected me); but nothing English, save impoverished chap-book stuff. Of course there was and is all the Arthurian world, but powerful as it is, it is imperfectly naturalized, associated with the soil of Britain but not with English; and does not replace what I felt to be missing…
…But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen) I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story – the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths – which I could dedicate simply to: to England; to my country. It should possess the tone and quality that I desired, somewhat cool and clear, be redolent of our ‘air‘ (the clime and soil of the North West, meaning Britain and the hither parts of Europe: not Italy or the Aegean, still less the East), and, while possessing (if I could achieve it) the fair elusive beauty that some call Celtic (though it is rarely found in genuine ancient Celtic things), it should be ‘high’, purged of the gross, and fit for the more adult mind of a land long now…” more here
It’s not so much a case of “Keep Middle Earth in New Zealand” as “Return Middle Earth to England where it rightly belongs” and what more fitting tribute could be made to Tolkien and his descendants, by doing exactly that? Does New Zealand have a right to be claiming Middle Earth as its own when it was so clearly not?
It gives a fresh twist to the ‘Tale of There and Back Again.’
So far The film’s English/Celtic line up is looking like this:
Martin Freeman -Bilbo Baggins
Ian McKellen – Gandalf the Grey
Andy Serkis – Gollum
Sylvester McCoy – Wizard Radagast The Brown
David Tennant – tipped for Thranduil, King of the Wood-Elves
James Nesbitt – tipped for Bofur
Bill Bailey – tipped for Gloin
Richard Armitage – Thorin Oakenshield
Aidan Turner – Kili
Rob Kazinsky – Fili
Graham McTavish – Dwalin