Scenery stars in featurette

Worldwide fans of The Hobbit will be told Queenstown is ''a beautiful jewel at the bottom of the world'' and Strath Taieri is ''glorious'' when they watch a special feature on the locations used in the trilogy from the comfort of their own homes.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey began its global release on DVD and Blu-Ray in the United States and Canada on Tuesday, then Mexico and Brazil later in the week.

The first part of Sir Peter Jackson's new Middle-earth trilogy will roll out on the home entertainment formats in the United Kingdom on April 8, followed by Europe, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea and the Philippines throughout April.

It will be released in New Zealand and Australia on May 1.

A six-minute video titled New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth will appear as a featurette on millions of discs and consists of cast interviews, movie location clips, behind-the-scenes discussions and dramatic shots of the New Zealand landscape.

Northern Irish actor James Nesbitt (dwarf Bofur) praised the ''astonishing'' beauty of the Wakatipu, a place he had never visited before the production arrived to work in late 2011.

The featurette depicts postcard views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables and the lake from the Queenstown-Glenorchy Rd.

Sir Ian McKellen (wizard Gandalf the Grey) said Queenstown was ''a famous holiday place here, but we escape the crowds and go up the lake into the mountains and that's perhaps my favourite spot.''

British second unit director and actor Andy Serkis (Gollum) said: ''The place was alive with these incredible cascades and we were very lucky to go to some extraordinary locations,'' over clips of the actors being filmed and views of the the rugged scenery from the air.

Sir Peter said while standing in Strath Taieri he wanted to use the location for the wargs chasing the dwarves through the rocks.

''I loved the idea of doing a huge chase that was spread over a huge landscape,'' he said.

The featurette ended with British star Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins) who said a lot of the world's impression of New Zealand was its rolling hills, mountains and fiords.

''The backdrop is so beautiful, people will think it's CGI [computer generated imagery].

''It looks too perfect. You can use that as an advert for New Zealand if you want!''

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd said the featurette was a continuation of the exposure gained through the films and an enhancement into a new audience.

''It's publicity we couldn't possibly afford any other way,'' Mr Budd said.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler said The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was enormously popular, having passed $US1 billion in worldwide box office takings.

''The endorsement New Zealand receives from the international cast in this new feature on the DVD release is amazing.''

Mr Bowler said Tourism NZ's objective was to distribute the content to reach as many potential travellers as possible.

 

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