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Studios respond to guilds' 'Hobbit' boycott

Call allegations 'baseless and unfair to Peter Jackson'

Two days after actors guilds issued an alert advising actors against working on the "non-union production" of "The Hobbit," New Line, Warner Bros. and MGM responded with a joint statement regarding the big-budget adaptation.

The guilds -- incuding SAG, AFTRA and several international unions -- say the producers of the fantasy blockbuster, to be directed by Peter Jackson, have rebuffed organizing efforts by the New Zealand unit of MEAA, an Australian actors union.

But the studios responded that MEAA was "inaccurate" in classifying the production as "non-union" and that the allegations "are baseless and unfair to Peter Jackson and his team in Wellington."

Here's the complete statement:

New Line, Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures are concerned by the recent allegations of unfair treatment of actors in New Zealand and instructions from the performers' guilds to their membership to withhold services from the producers of "The Hobbit" in New Zealand.

We are proud to have good relations with all of those performers' guilds and value their contribution to the motion pictures produced in their respective jurisdictions throughout the world. But we believe that in this case the allegations are baseless and unfair to Peter Jackson and his team in Wellington who have been tireless supporters of the New Zealand motion picture community.

To classify the production as "non-union" is inaccurate. The cast and crew are being engaged under collective bargaining agreements where applicable and we are mindful of the rights of those individuals pursuant to those agreements. And while we have previously worked with MEAA, an Australian union now seeking to represent actors in New Zealand, the fact remains that there cannot be any collective bargaining with MEAA on this New Zealand production, for to do so would expose the production to liability and sanctions under New Zealand law.

This legal prohibition has been explained to MEAA. We are disappointed that MEAA has nonetheless continued to pursue this course of action.

Motion picture production requires the certainty that a production can reasonably proceed without disruption and it is our general policy to avoid filming in locations where there is potential for work force uncertainty or other forms of instability. As such, we are exploring all alternative options in order to protect our business interests.