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Tourism NZ 'gagged' over The Hobbit - lodge owner

Published: 9:26PM Tuesday October 09, 2012 Source: ONE News

The owner of a luxury lodge that overlooks some of the New Zealand locations used in The Hobbit movies says he is being prevented from advertising that the scenery is used in the film to attract customers.

Farewell Spit, Golden Bay, Mt Olympus and Mt Parapara, located at the top of the South Island, were used as the backdrop to Sir Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, and have again been used for the upcoming Hobbit films.

Reg Turner, the owner of Song of the Tui lodge in Golden Bay, said he wanted to use the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to promote his accommodation in a local tourism guide.

"The little advert said, 'my lovely lodge overlooks the stunning scenery as shown in the films Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit'," the lodge owner said.

Turner had to delete details of The Hobbit from his listing, however, because of copyright issues from the films' production company, Warner Bros.

"The New Zealand tourism board are being gagged by Warners that nobody can release that name for advantages, whether it be marketing or selling, until the say so."

Tourism New Zealand said while the films were still being shot, secrecy is paramount and the production company could come down on any copyright breaches.

However, Turner said he had not signed any copyright agreement and would leave The Hobbit details on the website for his lodge.

"Those mountains appear in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and that's a fact. I'm not lying."

Prime Minister John Key made a trip to Hollywood last week to promote New Zealand as a filming destination to movie companies.

Key said there were strict copyright regulations as to what can be advertised.

"It's not unusual for companies not to be able to trade on a particular reference."

Turner said because film companies were given tax breaks and incentives to film in New Zealand, local businesses should benefit from the films too.

"We deserve to ride that band wagon."

In March this year, the Saul Zaentz Company ordered a number of small businesses trading under names related to the books, including The Hobbit pub in Southampton, to change their titles.

Some actors of The Hobbit movies, including Stephen Fry and Sir Ian McKellen, rallied support for the pub, describing the legal action as "pointless, self-defeating bullying".