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Wellington’s Hobbit party almost overshadows inauguration


NEWS
Filed by Jack Yan/October 27, 2010/12.26


I hadn’t planned on a big night. I attended the inauguration of Mayor Celia Wade-Brown in Wellington, New Zealand, and joined her and some of her newly sworn-in councillors at St John’s Bar earlier tonight. But on the way to the latter, we got word that The Hobbit, the troubled Warner Bros. production that had threatened to leave New Zealand shores thanks to union issues, would remain, thanks to intervention by the government. There was another party—an unscheduled one, but equally joyous—on what proved to be a big night out in Wellington.
   When I left the Matterhorn bar just before midnight, some members of Wellington film crews, Gerry Brownlee MP, Minister of Economic Development, and his team were still celebrating.
   The two Hobbit movies, based on the J. R. R. Tolkien novel and produced by, inter alia, Sir Peter Jackson, were budgeted for US$500 million, with the New Zealand Government providing greater tax breaks to secure them staying on-shore.
   The tax breaks announced by the Prime Minister, John Key, include an extra NZ$20 million on top of the NZ$45 million that had already been pledged. A labour law change will be presented before Parliament to secure the deal and to end the threat of a strike.
   The informality of the Hobbit party at the Matterhorn almost overshadowed the dignity and ceremony of the inauguration tonight.
   The Hobbit is the prequel to The Lord of the Rings. Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Sir Ian McKellen and Mark Hadlow have been cast.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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