Hobbit producers to New Zealand: if you tell people how we got our sweet tax/labor deal, no one will want to make movies in your country

The production company that made the Hobbit convinced the government of New Zealand to suspend its labor laws and tax laws. Now the NZ Labour Party is asking for the details of the deal that the company struck with the government to be disclosed, and the production company is fighting it, saying that if the government tells the voters of NZ what sort of sweetheart deal they were handed, no one will want to make movies in New Zealand any more.

Radio New Zealand applied for the documents in November 2010 under the Official Information Act but ministers refused on the grounds they were commercially sensitive.

The broadcaster appealed the decision and on January 31, Ombudsman David McGee ruled 18 documents, including emails between Hobbit director Sir Peter Jackson and government officials, must be released.

In his 29-page ruling McGee said the information in the documents didn't pose serious commercial risks.

But New Line warned this would affect future relations, objecting in a statement included in the ruling.

"If the government is not willing to adequately protect this sensitive information from disclosure, this will operate as a major disincentive to motion picture studios as well as local and foreign talent - to utilise New Zealand as a location for future productions."

Threats fly over Hobbit document release [NZ Herald/Cassandra Mason]