Stars to guest at Queenstown 'Hobbit' screening

Reading Cinemas Queenstown cinema complex manager Rebekah Moore and Wakatipu Youth Trust worker Rhys Smith stand yesterday in the newly Middle-earth-decorated foyer of the cinema, which will host The Hobbit actors William Kircher and Jed Brophy later this month. Photo by James Beech.
Reading Cinemas Queenstown cinema complex manager Rebekah Moore and Wakatipu Youth Trust worker Rhys Smith stand yesterday in the newly Middle-earth-decorated foyer of the cinema, which will host The Hobbit actors William Kircher and Jed Brophy later this month. Photo by James Beech.
Otago's ties to Middle-earth are about to become even stronger with a special red carpet visit by two stars of The Hobbit in support of Queenstown youth.

William Kircher and Jed Brophy, the intrepid dwarfs Bifur and Nori in Sir Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy, were announced yesterday as the special guests of Reading Cinemas Queenstown and the Wakatipu Youth Trust on December 21.

The New Zealand actors will walk with young members of the trust's Youth Booth to an exclusive screening of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at the cinema in Queenstown Mall about 3pm.

The public will also get the chance to meet them.

The duo will be available for photographs and autographs in the foyer of the cinema from about 4pm to 5pm.

They will answer questions about their roles and the production from the young audience before the private screening of The Desolation of Smaug.

Cinema complex manager Rebekah Moore said yesterday only 68 tickets would be available for the one-off youth-only screening.

Tickets will be sold to school-aged children through the youth trust on a first-come, first-served basis.

Wakatipu schools were contacted yesterday. Each young person's participation must be approved in writing by a parent.

The Middle-earth-decorated cinema foyer was ''the perfect backdrop to this movie event and I cannot think of a better location to hold such an event as much of the film was shot in this area,'' Ms Moore said.

Youth trust worker Rhys Smith said ideas were always being sought to support young people in the community.

He approached The Hobbit actors to gauge their interest and availability only 10 days earlier.

''This is an amazing opportunity for the youth of the Wakatipu to experience a VIP screening of one of the biggest film franchises in history,'' Mr Smith said.

Sir Peter Jackson, cast and crew returned to Paradise near Glenorchy to shoot scenes involving Beorn's House two years ago.

It was one of four locations exposed to 200 media and guests when Tourism New Zealand opened a walk-through multimedia installation, ''The Book of New Zealand'', in Los Angeles on Sunday night, to coincide with the world premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Paradise and Queenstown, plus the other filming locations in Otago, feature throughout Tourism New Zealand's global ''100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand'' campaign.

Tickets went on sale this week for the midnight screening of The Desolation of Smaug at Reading Cinemas Queenstown next Thursday, December 12, and were expected to sell out.