The New Zealand actors who starred as dwarves in the Hobbit trilogy have been snubbed by film bosses who won't take them to the movie's world premiere in London.
The Hobbit and Lord of Rings franchises are among the biggest global movie moneymakers, so far pulling in almost $5billion in box office takings for Warner Bros.
But the studio is crying poor, blaming budget considerations for not paying the airfares to the UK.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, directed by Sir Peter Jackson, will premiere in London's Leicester Square on December 1 and will be released in New Zealand on December 11.
John Callen, who played Oin the dwarf in the three movies, announced the Warner Bros decision on his Facebook page.
"Just had the word that Warner Brothers won't be taking the Kiwi dwarves of The Hobbit to the London premier because of 'budget' considerations. Sorry to all ... "
The Government made special efforts to ensure the movie was made here, offering a deal to Warner Bros, which included generous tax breaks and a change to employment law.
Fan website TheOneRing.net said the decision about the premiere would mean that in addition to Callen, Jed Brophy (Nori), Mark Hadlow (Dori), William Kircher (Bifur), Peter Hambleton (Gloin), Stephen Hunter (Bombur) and possibly Dean O'Gorman (Fili), would not make the trip to the premiere unless they paid their own airfares.
"That's seven (more than half) of the 13 dwarves of the company of Thorin who are basically ever-presents - and key supporting cast - throughout all three films," the website said.
Outraged fans attacked Warner Bros over the decision and at least two petitions were launched online asking the company to reconsider.
"With all the money they will make from this movie, they can take ALL the dwarves to London," said fan Yvonne Hoffman Campbell. "It's just not fair ..."
Movie bosses were in damage control yesterday announcing seven dwarves would be flown to LA for the premiere there.
Wingnut Films spokesman Matt Dravitski said: "The New Zealand dwarves are being invited to the Los Angeles premiere of the film and the European dwarves are going to the London premiere of the film."
When details of the London premiere were announced, the actors here were not told of their invitation to Los Angeles, Dravitski said. "They will be attending premieres. They're not being left out. The Los Angeles premiere will be the final of all the Middle-Earth premieres and they will be there to celebrate." The actors' flights "and everything" would be paid for, he said.
Hunter thanks supporters on his Facebook page and acknowleged the LA trip, but added: "I still have fond memories of the Royal Premier for An Unexpected Journey. That would have been hard to top."
Warner Bros did not return calls.
Hobbit stars Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Richard Armitage and Luke Evans announced on Thursday the premiere would be in London, shocking some fans disappointed Wellington would not host the event.
The first two Hobbit films have already earned $1.98b, with 2012's An Unexpected Journey pulling in $1.02b and last year's Desolation of Smaug netting $958 million.
The Lord of the Rings has netted nearly $3b at the box office, making it one of the most successful trilogies and franchises in movie history.