The head of the company that produces Outrageous Fortune and Shortland Street believes the fallout over The Hobbit has made actors Robyn Malcolm and Jennifer Ward-Lealand "damaged goods" who could now struggle to find acting work.

But John Barnett, chief executive of South Pacific Pictures, blames the unions for not keeping the actors away from the public outcry that has erupted over the possibility of losing the two films overseas.

After an international actors boycott, Warner Bros is now considering looking abroad to make The Hobbit. Company executives will meet producer Sir Peter Jackson and Prime Minister John Key tomorrow to discuss the future of the $670 million project.

The unions had wanted to meet to negotiate the terms and conditions of the contracts for The Hobbit, but the producers declined on legal advice that collective bargaining amounted to price-fixing and was illegal.

The situation remains tense as the film industry holds its breath, with some fearing a domino effect that could cripple the future of movie-making in New Zealand.

Mr Barnett said he had received a lot of feedback about Ward-Lealand and Malcolm, two members of the actors' union who had fronted the cause.

"The feedback has been quite vocal and critical of them. They've been pushed into the front row and are now earning the opprobrium of the public."

He said anyone should be free to express their views but producers would be reluctant to hire them because public perception was a huge factor in casting.

"Robyn's a terrific actress. However, if The Hobbit doesn't stay here, then people are going to respond negatively, and that means they're just not going to watch her.

"We don't want that for her. She doesn't deserve it. But the union has let them down. They should not have let her go out and speak."

Mr Barnett also criticised NZ Actors' Equity organiser Frances Walsh and said Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly, who has fronted the media on the issue, was out of her depth.

Simon Whipp, director of the Australia-based Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, of which Equity is a branch, should have fronted media on the issue, he said.

Malcolm's agent did not return calls yesterday, but the actor told the Sunday Star-Times that she did not mind being unpopular while fighting for a good cause.

"I really believe in this stuff. I believe in workers' rights."

Ward-Lealand, who is president of Equity, said she had thought about the possible repercussions for her career.

"I think it's fair, what we asked for, so I'm hoping that people are rational enough to see that. I guess we'll see what the future holds.

"I'm not saying it doesn't require fortitude - everybody around me is aware of that - or that is hasn't been hard on me and the family, but you have to come back to the question: is it fair to ask for a meeting? And I think it's fair.

"John's entitled to hire who he wants, and I'll keep working."

She and Malcolm had wanted to front the media on the issue, she said. Actors' Equity has said that the industrial dispute is resolved and that no industrial action would take place if the films were made in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, several rallies nationwide have been organised today to show support for keeping the films in New Zealand.

From 12.30pm, crowds are expected to gather at Queen Elizabeth Square in Auckland, Garden Place in Hamilton, the Gollum Statue in Matamata, Civic Square in Wellington, Cathedral Square in Christchurch and the Village Green in Queenstown.