Place your bets on The Hobbit moving

The prospect of Warner Bros movie The Hobbit going offshore would be a disaster for the New Zealand film industry but it could make some New Zealanders richer.New Zealand's online predictions market, iPredict Ltd, has launched a stock forecasting whether the movie will be filmed in New Zealand or whether a substantial proportion of the scenes involving human actors will be filmed in another country.iPredict trades stocks on future events with prices changing as people's view of the likelihood of the event changes.

The prospect of Warner Bros movie The Hobbit going offshore would be a disaster for the New Zealand film industry but it could make some New Zealanders richer.

New Zealand's online predictions market, iPredict Ltd, has launched a stock forecasting whether the movie will be filmed in New Zealand or whether a substantial proportion of the scenes involving human actors will be filmed in another country.

iPredict trades stocks on future events with prices changing as people's view of the likelihood of the event changes.

Trading in the new stock began at noon and live results can be found here. The move followed this morning's announcement by Warner Bros that it is considering offshore locations for The Hobbit movies.

This follows an industrial dispute between the movies' producers, which include Academy Award Winner Sir Peter Jackson, and unions, including the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and those representing New Zealand and offshore actors.

The dispute has been escalating and may include direct negotiations between Warner Bros executives and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

Matt Burgess, chief executive of iPredict, said the New Zealand film industry was a major earner of foreign exchange for the country and any final decision by Warner Bros. - one way or the other - would have a significant impact on the New Zealand economy.

“The new iPredict stock will give economic and foreign exchange forecasters real time guidance over the next few days on which way the decision is likely to go,” he said.

Accusations are also being made in the New Zealand media that local unions have overplayed their hand in the dispute.

This has prompted iPredict to launch a stock on whether or not the President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Helen Kelly, will leave her role for any reason by the end of the year.

Mr Burgess said the relationship between the two stocks would indicate the degree to which the issue would be a factor in any resignation by Ms Kelly.

iPredict is owned by Viclink, the commercial arm of Victoria University of Wellington. Details on the company and the two new stocks can be found at www.ipredict.co.nz.

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