IMDB’s “Studio Report” has expanded on last week’s “Dominion” article on what the NZ Army was paid for taking part in LOTR – that story is on Stuff and a quick read between the lines shows that it’s an attempt by a marginal political party to topple the NZ Government by discrediting them. It’s a valiant effort but so far nobody’s taken to the streets in protest at the Govt’s shocking mismanagement of the armed forces. I have yet to meet anyone that gives a toss, quite frankly.

The Australian papers took up the story because it is sort of funny – after all, what kind of wussy country is it that allows its military personnel to dress up in funny costumes and run round with outdated weapons? Don’t worry, we’re used to it.

By the time IMBD got hold of the story it read like this:

“Rings Producers Bought Soldiers For $8.83 Per Day.
Controversy has erupted in New Zealand following the revelation that the country’s Defense Force, the combined army, navy and air force, was paid only $91,000 for the use of 15-250 men, mostly as extras, each day during the filming of Lord of the Rings. The figure breaks down to $8.83 per man per day. A spokesman for the political party New Zealand First, which has been pushing for an increase in pay for military personnel, told the NZPA news service, “If we are going to insist the Defense Force operate in a business-like manner … then pay it what (the personnel) are worth. … I’d now ask the Prime Minister to transfer funds from allocations to the film industry to compensate the army for the loss of its resources and its time.”

I like that ‘Controversy has erupted’ line. Perhaps it’s erupting away quietly under our tightly-buttoned stiff upper lips or something. Anyhow, I’ve failed to notice it. There’s another story going on behind this one, though, which relates to Hollywood’s alarm at the number of ‘runaway’ productions that are made in cheaper locations such as Canada, Mexico, Australia and now NZ., which hosted both LOTR and ‘Vertical Limit.’ Quickbeam, a film industry insider working in LA commented:

“I’m quite sure the intention of having this story on IMDb today was to have Hollywood-ites be grateful they have a Union to protect them from the evils of foreign film productions. And of course to bring embarrassment to New Line for even taking this project out of Los Angeles in the first place. The climate here regarding Canada, New Zealand, and Australia stealing productions from L.A. is incredibly sour. This is a non-event to you & I, but any story that reinforces the impact of “runaway productions” is press-worthy to an industry nervous about its future.”