Hobbits could call Gold Coast home
Peter Jackson's multimillion-dollar blockbuster The Hobbit could be moving to the Gold Coast with the Oscar-winning filmmaker ready to quit New Zealand due to major hurdles crippling production.
The southern Gold Coast is being touted as a possibility for relocation for the Lord of the Rings prequel with its rolling hills and sparser population two attributes attracting the interest of producers.
Burleigh Heads-based filmmaker David Gould, who has worked alongside Jackson on the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong, was tight-lipped about the Coast as a possible shooting option but admitted campaigns to move the movie had begun.
"Australia has definitely thrown their hat in the ring," he said.
"Basically that's all I can say ... I could possibly be working on it if I'm around.
"I can't really say anything because of confidentiality agreements."
Economic Development Committee chairwoman Cr Susie Douglas said she had been contacted by the University of Queensland yesterday as an advocate for the Gold Coast film industry and was questioned on her thoughts on The Hobbit.
She said it was still too soon to tell if the move would happen.
However, she remained confident in the movie-making attraction of the Coast with Steven Spielberg preparing to film his television series Terra Nova here and James Cameron wrapping up his underwater adventure Sanctum.
"There is a movie being announced in a week and half but the producers aren't saying anything," she said.
"They are being so secretive not even I know what is going on."
Cr Douglas said the number of films being attracted to the Coast was testament to the council's Investment Attraction Program which offers incentives for international production companies to film here.
The Hobbit, which involves several of the characters from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, was faced with funding problems with studio MGM at its inception and is now locked in a dispute with the union Actors Equity New Zealand about pay.
A spokeswoman for Actors Equity New Zealand said the union was still in negotiations and would not comment on the rumours of a move to the Gold Coast.
Last Friday, a large fire wrecked one of the film's sets in a studio in Wellington, taking firefighters three hours to extinguish.
Representatives of The Hobbit could not be contacted last night.