New Zealand is in the midst of a nationwide party of Middle-earth proportions as host of the global première of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM) (28.11.2012).

From Dwarves popping up on buildings in central Wellington, to Middle-earth themed currency and stamps, it seems New Zealand has caught Middle-earth fever.

Airline to Middle-earth
Official airline to Middle-earth, Air New Zealand, kicked off a Middle-earth themed month with the release of its latest on board safety video on 1 November.

The video has been created in conjunction with the Academy Award-winning Weta Workshop and features appearances from Sir Peter Jackson, as well as the unforgettable Gollum. Two great grandsons of The Hobbit author J.R.R Tolkien, Mike and Royd Tolkien, also make cameo appearances.

Kiwi Dean O’Gorman, who plays the Dwarf Fili on screen, can be spotted amongst the passengers in the safety video, along with two super-Hobbit fans from TheOneRing.net – the web’s largest Tolkien fan site.

Air New Zealand’s support of The Hobbit Trilogy will also include a themed aircraft to be unveiled in Wellington on global première day.

Gateway to Middle-earth
Auckland International Airport, ‘Gateway to Middle-earth’ and the place where most visitors first set foot in New Zealand, will be supporting the efforts of Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand and other leading industry players who are working to enhance the country’s international profile as a fun, must-see tourism destination, an innovative and creative nation, and a great place to make films and do business.

“Ninety two per cent of all long-haul arrivals into the country arrive at Auckland Airport – and that is where they get to experience their first exciting taste of New Zealand,” says Adrian Littlewood, Auckland Airport’s incoming chief executive.

The Airport will host fun, themed activities around the time of the first film in The Hobbit Trilogy, as well as a Weta Workshop installation that will make travellers feel as though they really have arrived through the Gateway to Middle-earth.

The Middle of Middle-earth
This week – beginning 26 November – New Zealand’s capital city Wellington has become the Middle of Middle-earth.

The city will be in the is ternational spotlight as it hosts the world première of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. On première night – Wednesday 28 November – stars and VIPs will walk more than 1600 feet of red carpet from Reading Cinema to The Embassy, both of which will screen the film for invited guests.

Other highlights include Hobbit-inspired artwork around the city, a Hobbit Artisan Market, and free outdoor screenings of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

The Hobbit Artisan Market will feature local artists who have worked on The Hobbit Trilogy. From glass blowers to leather workers, jewellers to sculptors, 30 artists will be displaying and selling their work at the five-day market.

Over the five days there will be prosthetics demonstrations, such as how to look like an Orc, as well as competitions including best-dressed Hobbit costume and apple bobbing. On première day, there will be a free live feed of red carpet activities.

Thirteen of the world’s tallest Dwarves – plus a distinctly larger-than-life Hobbit – have also taken up residence on a fifth-storey plinth at New Zealand Post House – a 12-storey office tower block in Wellington. They will remain in place until early 2013.

Gollum dives into Wellington Airport
Visitors to Wellington Airport’s terminal may get a surprise from the 40-foot-long Gollum, who moved into the terminal in late October.

The massive sculpture, which is suspended from the roof, shows the emaciated physique and momentary expression of glee on the face of Gollum, submerged and reaching for his favourite meal of  ‘juicy sweet fishes’.

It has been developed by Weta Workshop and Wellington Airport to welcome visitors to the Wellington region.

Milled and sculpted from huge blocks of polystyrene and coated in epoxy resin, Gollum weighs in at 1.2 tonnes and stretches more than 40 feet into the airport terminal.

Hobbit currency
New Zealand Post has unveiled designs for the world’s only legal tender coins linked to the first movie in Sir Peter Jackson’s trilogy of films based on The Hobbit, and a set of stamps based on the movies.

Sir Ian McKellen – who reprises the role of Gandalf which he originally played in Jackson’s Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – says the coins and stamps capture the essence of his iconic character.

“To put Gandalf on these splendiferous coins is a wizard idea,” McKellen said from London, England.

McKellen is also impressed by the specially designed stamps, noting: “The pointy hat, the beard and the illuminated staff – the $1.90 NZ stamp is pure Gandalf.”

The coins – which are legal tender – have been on sale since 1 November 2012, alongside a set of six stamps celebrating the film.

New Zealand Post is authorised by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand as the only official issuer of legal tender New Zealand commemorative coins.

About the movie

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), is the first in Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated trilogy adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The screenplay for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro. Jackson is also producing the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and the second and third films of the trilogy are productions of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production. Warner Bros. Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM.

www.newzealand.com