Thousands of protesters took to the streets across New Zealand today to protest Warner Bros.’ threats to move the filming of the Hobbit out of the country. Rallies were held in Wellington, Auckland, and Christchurch among others, according to the BBC, with protesters holding signs like, “New Zealand IS Middle Earth” and “We Love Hobbits.” The rallies coincide both with New Zealand’s Labor Day and a Warner Bros. meeting in the country to decide the film’s fate.
The studio first raised the possibility of shooting elsewhere after a dispute with various acting unions last month. The unions have since dropped their demands, but executives say they might move anyway. “I'd love to tell you it's a done deal, but we're a long way away from being a done deal,” said New Zealand’s Prime Minister, according to Reuters. Were the Hobbit to shoot elsewhere, New Zealand's economy could lose as much as $1.5 billion.