WELLINGTON Nov 28 New Zealand's capital city
was taken over by pointy-eared, costumed Hobbit fans on
Wednesday, many of whom camped overnight to grab the best spots
for the red carpet world premiere of the film later in the day.
Wellington, where director Peter Jackson and much of the
post production is based, has renamed itself "the Middle of
Middle Earth", and fans with prominent Hobbit ears, medieval
style costumes, grey beards, wigs, and wizard hats claimed
spaces along the 500 metre (550 yards) red carpet.
Tens of thousands are expected to pack the route to the
theatre, along which the cast, crew, and celebrities will
"It's Tolkien, so it's absolutely huge, it's one of the most
adored books ever after Lord of the Rings, everyone's really
excited," said student Chelsea Thomson.
The theatre screening the "Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey"
has been decorated with the entrance to a Hobbit house and the
wizard Gandalf, while three giant trolls and other creations
from the film are in the street.
New Zealand has virtually claimed the Hobbit and Lord of the
Rings as national treasures and emblems since Jackson started
making the Oscar-winning movies, based on the epic fantasy books
of J.R.R Tolkien, more than 12 years ago.
The first film of the Hobbit trilogy is set 60 years before
"The Lord of The Rings" and was originally planned as only two
movies before it was decided that there was enough material to
justify a third.
Many of the film's stars have flown in for the premiere,
including British actor Martin Freeman, who plays the Hobbit
Bilbo Baggins, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, and
Elijah Wood. Ian McKellen, who plays the wizard Gandalf, is
Tolkien's great grandson, Royd Tolkien, has also come out
for the premiere.
Fans from the United States and Europe have travelled for
the premiere of the film in what for some is almost a
"We're on a 15 day tour, we're looking at every Lord of the
Rings and Hobbit location that we know of and just having a lot
of fun doing it," said a young man named Dave from Ohio.
The production has been at the centre of several
controversies, including a dispute with unions in 2010 over
labour contracts that nearly sent the filming overseas and
resulted in the government stepping in to change employment
laws, as well as giving Warner Brothers increased incentives to
keep the production in New Zealand.
Animal rights activists have said they will demonstrate at
the red carpet because of the death of more than 20 animals,
including horses, pigs and chickens, during the making of the
Jackson has said some animals used in the film died on the
farm where they were being housed, but that none had been hurt
The films are also notable for being the first filmed at 48
frames per second (fps), compared with the 24 fps that has been
the industry standard since the 1920s.
The second film "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" will
be released in December next year, with the third "The Hobbit:
There and Back Again" due in mid-July 2014.