Hobbit movie may be shot here
Ireland is one of the alternative locations being considered by Warner Bros as the row over the filming of The Hobbit in New Zealand rumbles on.
In the wake of a short-lived union boycott that rattled the Hollywood studio, executives said they would consider shooting Peter Jackson's $500m adaptation of the JRR Tolkien fantasy elsewhere.
Reports have suggested that Warner Bros is considering locations in Ireland, England, Scotland, Canada, Australia and eastern Europe.
The project has already suffered a series of delays including the resignation of director Guillermo de Toro, who quit in May as the uncertain financial future of movie studio partner MGM put a question mark over the project.
New Zealand's government today warned that it will not get into a bidding war to prevent Warner Bros from moving the production.
Economists said the move could cost the country up to $1.5bn. Thousands of protesters -- some dressed as hobbits and others carrying placards pleading not to move filming to Ireland -- took to the streets to convince the studio that New Zealand was the only valid location for the two-part series.
Jackson's adaptation of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings proved beneficial to everyone: New Zealand received priceless international publicity, Warner Bros sold nearly $3bn worth of tickets at the box office, and the filmmaker and his team won armfuls of Oscars.
Studio executives will decide on the location for The Hobbit after meeting this week with government officials, led by Prime Minister John Key. But the centre-right politician ruled out increasing the country's subsidy programme to sway studio executives.
"In the conversations I've had with Warner Bros so far I've made it quite clear if it comes to a bidding war, then New Zealand's out," Key said.
Film subsidies are expected to run to about $50m, and some union members had argued that Warner Bros was using the industrial dispute to wrangle a better deal from the government.