The Political Economy of The Hobbit Labour Dispute: Global Hollywood, National Interests and Film Policy

Natàlia Ferrer-Roca


The power of Hollywood is not only borderless but also extensive around the world. Therefore, how Hollywood operates in a local context is a matter of concern, even more if the use of its power has clear political, economic and socio-cultural consequences for the host country in terms of a modified film policy. This research explains how “Global Hollywood” operates in a local context to defend its economic interests and adds to the contemporary discussion of Hollywood influence on cultural policy. Drawing on findings derived from a review of academic literature and secondary material, policy analysis, archival research and in-depth semi-structured interviews with New Zealand filmmakers and union representatives, this article takes an institutional political economy perspective to analyse The Hobbit dispute. It illustrates the structures of power associated with global and local stakeholders and analyses the interplay of interests among public and private actors involved in the dispute. It demonstrates that interests can change and evolve over time. Each institutional actor involved—the unions, Warner Bros, Peter Jackson and the NZ government—was motivated by a degree of opportunism and self-interest.

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