Date: 6th February 2001

Rings Producer Brought 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."

However, a spokesman for Defense Minister Mark Burton said that the money was meant only to cover expenses such as meals. "Personnel involved were already on the Defense Force's payroll, so there was no requirement to recover their salaries," he said.

Source: Studio Briefing