Hobbits, elves, wizards and all manner of Middle-earth
creatures were part of a crowd of thousands that gathered in
downtown Wellington today ahead of the world premiere of
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
A 500-metre red carpet was rolled along Courtenay Place to
the doors of the Embassy Theatre, where the first film in the
trilogy was to be shown to a select audience tonight.
A large stage depicting part of Hobbiton was erected near the
theatre from where the film's director, Sir Peter Jackson,
addressed the crowd.
"This is an incredible experience because you spend so long
shooting a movie where you're just focusing on the film and
you want to keep everybody out ... and then suddenly one day
the film's finished and the next morning you wake up and
there's 100,000 people coming to celebrate. It sort of flips
your head upside down.''
The crowd cheered as Sir Peter called cast members onto the
stage. One notable absence was Sir Ian McKellen, who instead
gave his thanks via a video message beamed to the crowd.
"I wish I were there, my spiritual home in Wellington. I hope
you have a wonderful time together,'' said the man who plays
Gandalf the wizard.
"Those of you who are about to see the film will see one of
the most talented groups of actors and technicians who ever
gathered together to make a movie, so I know you're in for a
Prime Minister John Key said tonight was a time of
celebration, and an opportunity to pay tribute to Sir Peter.
"The man's a genius,'' he said.
Mr Key said about 6700 domestic flights were taken as a
result of the making of the film, 93,000 hotel beds were
filled, 18,000 rental cars were used and $380,000 was spent
People could be seen peering down at the action from roofs
and windows all around Courtenay Place.
Barely a breeze could be felt in the famously windy city,
much to the pleasure of the crowd, some of whom waited for
hours to secure a good spot near the red carpet.
Chris Hallett flew over from the Gold Coast to be at today's
premiere and had been waiting since 6am.
He was also here a decade ago for the world premiere of the
final film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
"If it's anything like 10 years ago it will be off the
Mr Hallett said he had been a huge fan of The Hobbit since
his teacher read it to his class in grade six.
Barry Humphries, who plays the Goblin King in the film, said
the premiere would be something everyone who attended would
"This will be the most advanced movie ever made.''
Mr Humphries said Dame Edna - his famous alter ego - would
have loved to have been in the film, but unfortunately she
was too old.
He said he would be watching it for the first time tonight.
Sir Peter Jackson arrived at 4.30pm, and was the first star
to walk the red carpet.
He told a crowd of about 100,000 how special it was that so
many had turned out for the premiere, and Wellington had put
on a great show.
He said he loved escapism, and that was the sort of movie he
tried to make.
Sir Peter said the film was finished at the last minute.
"I might have to ask John Key to extend this part.''
He brought his daughter Katie to the premiere, who said she
had grown up with the J.R.R Tolkien stories and was excited
about seeing the movie for the first time.
Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins, said the movie was
fabulous and it was wonderful working with such inspiring
James Nesbitt, who plays the dwarf Bofur, said doing the
movie "changed my life''.
As well as being a great place to make movies, he said New
Zealand also had "good wine''.
The screening of the first in the Hobbit trilogy was to start