We reported yesterday that the ongoing strife between actors unions and Warner Bros. could lead to the studio taking The Hobbit out of New Zealand. Since that story was published, SAG, AFTA and NZ Equity have issued retractions on their "Do Not Work" orders. However, a statement, which Deadline received, indicates that The Hobbit may still be filmed elsewhere. Here's the statement released by Warner Bros.:
"Recent reports that the boycott of The Hobbit was lifted by unions a number of days ago and that Warner Bros asked to delay this announcement are false. It was not until last night that we received confirmation of the retractions from SAG, NZ Equity and AFTRA through press reports. We are still awaiting retractions from the other guilds. While we have been attempting to receive an unconditional retraction of the improper Do Not Work Orders for almost a month, NZ Equity/MEAA continued to demand, as a condition of the retractions, that we participate in union negotiations with the independent contractor performers, which negotiations are illegal in the opinion of the New Zealand Attorney General. We have refused to do so, and will continue to refuse to do so. The actions of these unions have caused us substantial damage and disruption and forced us to consider other filming locations for the first time. Alternative locations are still being considered."
Variety is also reporting that one of the "alternative locations" being explored is the United Kingdom.
Producer Fran Walsh has indicated that The Hobbit may shoot at famed Leavesden Film Studios, which is owned by Warner Bros., and was recently home to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as well as the last six chapters in that long running franchise. The studio is also fully 3D enabled. Walsh stated:
"They've got a huge studio that Harry Potter have vacated that they own and they say would be perfect for us."