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New Zealand becomes Middle Earth as Hobbit mania takes hold

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Visitors pose next to a sculpture of the J. R. R. Tolkien character Gollum at the Weta Cave museum in Wellington in this September 25, 2012 handout photograph. New Zealand's capital city was rushing to complete its transformation into a haven for hairy feet and pointed ears on November 27, 2012 as stars jetted in for the long-awaited world premiere of the first movie of the Hobbit trilogy. Picture taken September 25, 2012....more

Visitors pose next to a sculpture of the J. R. R. Tolkien character Gollum at the Weta Cave museum in Wellington in this September 25, 2012 handout photograph. New Zealand's capital city was rushing to complete its transformation into a haven for hairy feet and pointed ears on November 27, 2012 as stars jetted in for the long-awaited world premiere of the first movie of the Hobbit trilogy. Picture taken September 25, 2012. REUTERS/Positively Wellington Tourism/Handout
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A sculpture of the J. R. R. Tolkien character Gandalf is displayed at the Weta Cave museum in Wellington in this September 25, 2012 handout photograph. New Zealand's capital city was rushing to complete its transformation into a haven for hairy feet and pointed ears on November 27, 2012 as stars jetted in for the long-awaited world premiere of the first movie of the Hobbit trilogy. Picture taken September 25, 2012....more

A sculpture of the J. R. R. Tolkien character Gandalf is displayed at the Weta Cave museum in Wellington in this September 25, 2012 handout photograph. New Zealand's capital city was rushing to complete its transformation into a haven for hairy feet and pointed ears on November 27, 2012 as stars jetted in for the long-awaited world premiere of the first movie of the Hobbit trilogy. Picture taken September 25, 2012. REUTERS/Positively Wellington Tourism/Handout
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A sculpture of the J. R. R. Tolkien character Gollum, hangs from the roof of Wellington International Airport in this October 26, 2012 handout photograph. REUTERS/Positively Wellington Tourism/Handout

A sculpture of the J. R. R. Tolkien character Gollum, hangs from the roof of Wellington International Airport in this October 26, 2012 handout photograph. REUTERS/Positively Wellington Tourism/Handout
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NEIL HALL

An Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER featuring livery advertising the film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is loaded by ground crew after landing at Heathrow Airport, en route to Los Angeles and then Auckland, in London. November 25, 2012. The aircraft is picking up actors and crew along the route to attend the film's premiere in New Zealand. REUTERS/Neil Hall

An Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER featuring livery advertising the film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is loaded by ground crew after landing at Heathrow Airport, en route to Los Angeles and then Auckland, in London. November 25, 2012. The aircraft is picking up actors and crew along the route to attend the film's premiere in New Zealand. REUTERS/Neil Hall
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NEIL HALL

An Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER featuring livery advertising the film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey taxis to a gate after landing at Heathrow Airport, en route to Los Angeles and then Auckland, in London. November 25, 2012. The aircraft is picking up actors and crew along the route to attend the film's premiere in New Zealand. REUTERS/Neil Hall

An Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER featuring livery advertising the film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey taxis to a gate after landing at Heathrow Airport, en route to Los Angeles and then Auckland, in London. November 25, 2012. The aircraft is picking up actors and crew along the route to attend the film's premiere in New Zealand. REUTERS/Neil Hall
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A New Zealand $1 coin with an image of The Hobbit film trilogy character Bilbo Baggins, with its rim inscribed with English and 'Dwarvish' with the words 'Middle-earth - New Zealand', is shown in this undated handout picture made available October 11, 2012. Various coins, produced by New Zealand Post, that bear Hobbit film characters, will be legal tender and available from November 1, 2012. REUTERS/New Zealand Post/Handout

A New Zealand $1 coin with an image of The Hobbit film trilogy character Bilbo Baggins, with its rim inscribed with English and 'Dwarvish' with the words 'Middle-earth - New Zealand', is shown in this undated handout picture made available October 11, 2012. Various coins, produced by New Zealand Post, that bear Hobbit film characters, will be legal tender and available from November 1, 2012. REUTERS/New Zealand Post/Handout
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REUTERS TV

A flight attendant dressed as a female elf holds a life jacket in this still image taken from a safety video November 2, 2012. Fight a hobbit for an aisle seat? Get life jacket instructions from a beautiful female elf? Only on a plane to Middle Earth - or in an Air New Zealand safety video. The company's latest in a series of variations on the usual dull pre-flight safety instructions has lifted a page from J.R.R. Tolkien's classic...more

A flight attendant dressed as a female elf holds a life jacket in this still image taken from a safety video November 2, 2012. Fight a hobbit for an aisle seat? Get life jacket instructions from a beautiful female elf? Only on a plane to Middle Earth - or in an Air New Zealand safety video. The company's latest in a series of variations on the usual dull pre-flight safety instructions has lifted a page from J.R.R. Tolkien's classic "The Hobbit" in the run-up to the world premiere of the film later this month, a bid to attract visitors to the nation where much of the film was shot. REUTERS/Air New Zealand via Reuters TV
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