Sir Peter Jackson is threatening to pull the pin on Wellington’s $150 million Movie Museum, amid concerns over the city council “reneging” on its contract with him.
Wellington city councillors, chief executive Kevin Lavery, and mayor Justin Lester all received a letter on Tuesday on behalf of The Movie Museum Limited (TMML), signed by Jackson, Sir Richard Taylor, Fran Walsh and Tania Rodger.
It is understood Jackson penned the leaked letter – described by councillors as a “divorce letter” – because he was angry at how the council, as an overbearing landlord, had been pushing ahead selfishly with the museum, for which he would pay $3m in annual rent.
In bold print he wrote: “WCC seem intent on reneging on many of the terms already agreed in the November 2015 signed contract.
“This is the principal cause of ongoing delays, and it feels that WCC are attempting to sabotage the project. We hope this is not the case and common sense can be allowed to return to process.”
Under the signed agreement, the council would pay for the new building, while TMML would fund the museum fitout, and feature Jackson’s extensive collection of movie memorabilia.
In the leaked letter, he says it is no longer in a collaborative partnership, and questions whether the council understands TMML’s investment.
To date, his company had invested millions of dollars on consultancy and and management fees, and had given up its time for free.
It would also spend a further $50m on the fitout for his $200m collection of sets, props and artefacts.
He said he was “somewhat disheartened” after the overall version of the project had been lost.
An unacceptable update on the development agreement (including a change in rent terms, scrutiny of TMML and its books, need for approval and lack of freedom) had raised many concerns.
There was “no way” TMML would agree, he said.
The proposed movie museum could easily become the top tourist attraction in Wellington. It would be a real kick in the guts if it didn’t occur.
Lester said he would be gobsmacked and incredibly disappointed if Jackson pulled out.
You’re the Mayor. Go sort it out.