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New Zealand To Become Middle Earth Once More

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The gorgeous landscape that is New Zealand will once again have it’s closeup on the world stage.

NZ Prime Minister John Key spent two days in talks with executives from Warner Bros. this past weekend about keeping production of “The Hobbit” movies in the country. Complicating matters was a dispute between the studio and the NZ actors’ union over wages. As a result, Warner had threatened to move the film elsewhere — with the UK a likely candidate. From the Financial Times:

Mr Key said the government would introduce legislation on Thursday to clarify the distinction between independent contractors and employees working exclusively in the film industry. “The industrial issues that have arisen in the past several weeks have highlighted a significant set of concerns for the way in which the international film industry operates,” he said. “We will be moving to ensure that New Zealand law in this area is settled to give film producers like Warner the confidence they need to produce their movies in this country.”

New tax rebates ($7.5m for each part of “The Hobbit”) would also be granted.

Most important to the country, however, is tourism — which received a massive boost in the wake of the original “Lord of the Rings” films. Having lived in New Zealand for several years, I can tell you that my wife and I were one of the many to purchase guide books on the various locations used in the films. Dorks, yes — but we’ve never seen a greater diversity of natural beauty.

So bring on the orcs, trolls, and other strange creatures of Middle Earth. New Zealand is ready for the spotlight.

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