Many newspapers reported that Wellington movie big-shot Peter Jackson had led the tributes to Sir Christopher Lee, who died last Sunday at the age of 93.
Among them is this report from The Guardian, which quoted from Jackson’t Facebook page:
As he confessed at the time (here), he is now taking a more jaundiced view of things.
His mates similarly were telling him they are just a tad sceptical, when they heard Sir Peter Jackson say there was a very real danger the Hobbit movies would be made outside New Zealand.
Accordingly, Alf finds himself doing the nigh-unpardonable and – brace for this, dear constituents – agreeing with Winston Peters.
Dunno why anyone should think a movie made in Hollywood would tell the whole unvarnished truth about a historical event.
Alf’s dad did his bit on a British destroyer in World War II, blasting German U-boats to save the world from the Nazis. He was damned upset when the tossers who made “The Enemy Below” (starring Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens) turned a British ship (see here) into an American one.
The movie script differs substantially from the original book. The ship is changed from British to American. More importantly, the final scenes of mutual respect and potential friendship between the protagonists is not at all how the book ends.
In light of that experience, Alf has steered clear of the movie version of The Hobbit. He fears the worst – that American flags are flown from poles outside the holes in the ground or wherever it is that hobbits reside and that they chew gum, watch baseball and mispronounce “aluminium”.
It is probably economic treason to say so, and Mrs Grumble delivered a caution to that effect.
But Alf is bound to say he couldn’t give a toss for The Hobbit and won’t be going to see it. Among other considerations, he is of an age where a visit to the gents will be required some time between the movie’s start and its finish, and this means he will (1) miss some of the action and (2) disrupt the viewing of others when he pushes desperately past them to make that visit.
Oh, and he does not give a toss about what Warner Bros might think about this country as a location for making movies.
Sir Peter Jackson, we may suppose, is laughing all the way to the bank on the back of The Hobbit.
Movie-goers, too, are doubtless chuffed by the film’s three-hour length, although Alf is bound to observe that this must require them to sit on their chuffs for three hours, which must be worse than sitting in the debating chamber for that period of time while Labour and Green politicians are banging on about this, that and the other.
But the people who run cinemas are not so thrilled, as you will learn here.
While those watching The Hobbit might have felt they got their money’s worth when it came down to the film’s three-hour length, cinemas showing the blockbuster were left feeling a little hard done by.
Now U.S. cinema owners have commissioned a report into losses suffered when screening a longer film four times a day rather than on six occasions, which is standard for a normal 90-minute film.
The National Association of Theatre Owners is the mob behind this initiative.
Alf had agreed with The Boss about providing troughs for the snouts of movie moguls.
If we’ve got to pick winners, and then nourish the buggers with public funding, then let’s pick winners from a glamourous industry like movie-making.
The photo opportunities for The Boss and his team are apt to have much more appeal to voters when they are pictured with movie people than – for example – coal miners.
At least, that’s what Alf thought until he found the Grumbles weren’t on the invitation list for the premiere of The Hobbit.
He is now taking a more jaundiced view of things, and especially he is wondering why the Government doesn’t want to disclose information about their handouts and other help to The Hobbit makers.
The good news: Phil Goff is off to Australia.
The bad news: he has a return ticket.
But he won’t be back in time to help or hamper desperate effort to repair the damage done by threats of an international actors’ boycott of The Hobbit.
Size does matter, of course, and if you are big enough you can get the Key cabinet to turn all sorts of tricks for you.
Especially when Hollywood movie moguls are involved, Alf’s Nat mates are eager to perform – and to please.
Want new labour laws?
Yep. We can fix it.
Want bigger subsidies?
Yep. We can fix that too.
How do you kill the goose that laid the golden egg and turned our capital into Wellywood?
Very quickly, when you bring in the bloody trade unionists.
NZ Actors Equity has allied itself with Australia’s Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance , which has called for a boycott of The Hobbit films.
Other actors’ unions around the world are supporting that call.