'The Hobbit' to première in Wellington, NZ
06 Jun 2012
The wheels were already in motion and the red carpet ready to roll - but now it is official - the world première for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be held at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington, New Zealand on 28 November.
Warner Bros has just confirmed the date for the much-anticipated première, and tourism operators in the capital city are bracing themselves for what is expected to be a massive influx of visitors.
The film is the first in Sir Peter Jackson’s epic adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s famous book which has been shot back-to-back with The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Filming for the two multi-million-dollar blockbusters has taken place at Stone Street Studios in Wellington and on location around New Zealand, and involving a star-studded cast.
Under the acclaimed New Zealand director the movies are being shot in digital 3D using the latest camera and stereo technology for which Jackson and his award-winning Weta companies have become world famous.
The two films are set in Middle-earth, and 60 years before Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, which Jackson and his team brought to the big screen in the international blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Wellington - named "the world’s coolest little capital" by Lonely Planet - is no stranger to movie premières having rolled out the red carpet for The Lord of the Rings in 2001, 2002 and 2003. But The Hobbit is expected to create even more of a buzz and the city is gearing up to accommodate the inundation of people attending the massive celebration.
Book early is the message from Positively Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks who says there is going to be a "simply unmissable buzz" pulsing through the city.
A huge media contingent is also expected and Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says it will be great chance for the "compact, cosmopolitan capital to shine around the world".
Wade-Brown says the event will showcase Wellington’s creativity, talent and industry and promises to put on a celebration that recognises Sir Peter Jackson’s devotion to the city.
Wellington home for cast & crew
Sir Peter - who has just been made an Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand in the latest Queen’s Birthday honours - says Wellington has become home for The Hobbit cast and crew over the past two years.
"I know I speak for a company of hobbits, dwarves, elves and orcs when I say that this city has a special place in all our hearts. We cannot think of a more perfect way to send The Hobbit off into the world than to celebrate with a huge party here in Wellington where the journey began."
It’s hoped that the principal cast for the first film will all attend the Wellington première including lead actor Martin Freeman and The Lord of the Rings stars Sir Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom and Andy Serkis. Others reprising their roles from LOTR are Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Christopher Lee and Hugo Weaving.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key says the première announcement is fantastic news for Wellington and the whole country. He said filming The Hobbit movies in New Zealand has had enormous economic benefits and the release of the movies would provide an opportunity to further raise the country’s tourism profile.
Tourism New Zealand's objective over the next 24 months is to convert all the attention and excitement that will be generated globally by the films into travel to New Zealand, says chief executive Kevin Bowler.
"100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand will underpin our campaign work to demonstrate that the fantasy of Middle-earth is in fact the reality of New Zealand - and that there is a whole world of experiences to be had and people to meet within the movie-scene-like landscapes," Bowler said.
Although full details of The Hobbit filming locations are under embargo, supervising location manager Jared Connon says about 40 different parts of New Zealand were chosen. He said some locations are on private land but several are public or national parks which are easily accessible in popular tourist destinations.
"They’ve all got their tourism tie-ins - that’s the way it works, when you shoot beautiful places," Connon said.
The magnificent scenery shown in The Lord of the Rings movies put New Zealand on the world screen and had a positive spin-off for tourism. A 2004 survey revealed that around 150,000 visitors cited The Lord of the Rings as one of the main reasons for visiting New Zealand, and international visitor arrivals in Wellington increased 50% in the decade from the release of the first movie.
Sir Peter Jackson said if people thought they had seen all of New Zealand’s scenic beauty in LOTR, they would be in for a surprise because there were plenty of "wonderful locations" still to come in The Hobbit.
Two of the new locations include the iconic South Island landscapes of the rugged Mackenzie Country - an alpine basin below New Zealand’s highest mountain Aoraki Mt Cook - and a rocky dry wilderness area near the southern city of Dunedin which depicts an area of Middle-earth.
Jared Connon said the Queenstown and Southern Lakes regions, Nelson - Marlborough, the North Island’s Central Plateau, Waitomo and, of course, Hobbiton in the Waikato were all filming locations.
Background: The Hobbit
The screenplays for both The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again are by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson. Jackson is also producing the films, together with Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Ken Kamins, Toby Emmerich and Zane Weiner, with Boyens serving as co-producer.
Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, the character he played in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins.
Also reprising their roles from the LOTR movies are: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Ian Holm as the elder Bilbo, Christopher Lee as Saruman, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Elijah Wood as Frodo, Orlando Bloom as Legolas, and Andy Serkis as Gollum.
The ensemble cast also includes (in alphabetical order) Richard Armitage, John Bell, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Barry Humphries, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Evangeline Lilly, Sylvester McCoy, Bret McKenzie, Graham McTavish, Mike Mizrahi, James Nesbitt, Dean O’Gorman, Lee Pace, Mikael Persbrandt, Conan Stevens, Ken Stott, Jeffrey Thomas, and Aidan Turner.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again are productions of New Line Cinema and MGM with New Line managing production. Warner Bros Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as international television licensing, being handled by MGM.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be in theatres on 14 December, 2012 and The Hobbit: There and Back Again is being released on 13 December, 2013.
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