Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Hardcore Hobbit fans treated to sneak peek

Hardcore Hobbit fans were treated today with a sneak peak of the second movie in Sir Peter Jackson's trilogy, during a global fan event.

The event was held simultaneously in Wellington, Los Angeles, New York and London.

The session was part of the build up to the December release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Seven hundred and fifty fans packed into Wellington's Embassy Theatre, and thousands more in theatres worldwide.

Included in Wellington's audience was Hermes, a blue-tongue skink belonging to Weta Digital. She arrived in the arm of her handler Shirley Jones, wearing a feather collar.

Ms Jones said Hermes goes to all Weta events.

Each cinema in the four locations were connected by satellite, allowing audiences to participate in a simultaneous Q & A among participants.

CNN anchorman Anderson Cooper hosted the event from New York, where he was joined by Orlando Bloom, who reprises his role as Legolas, and Richard Armitage, who plays Thorin Oakenshield.

Evangeline Lilly, who has been cast as Elf warrior Tauriel, was based in Los Angeles.

London hosted Lee Pace - the film's Elf King Thranduil, Luke Evans who plays Bard the Bowman, and Andy Serkis, who continues in his character Gollum.

Sir Peter, who arrived barefooted, spoke with the audience and said he had wanted to show fans a sneak peak of the movie, which was supposed to run for about five minutes. But he delighted the audience with a 20-minute viewing of some scenes.

The director pleaded with the audience not to secretly film the footage and put it online before its December 13 preview. "We want to keep some surprises," he said.

During the Q & A session, some secrets slipped out, such as Orlando Bloom's nickname for his character - Leggy.

As well as fans in the theatres peppering the celebrities with questions, people watching the event live on the internet were able to text questions in.

Martin Freeman, who played Bilbo Baggins had recorded a message for the audience.

"Filming this movie was quite an adventure and I can't wait for fans to see where the journey takes Bilbo, Gandalf and the company of dwarfs."

Sir Peter said the last 10 weeks of shooting the movie in June and July were "about the most intense 10 weeks I've ever shot in my life".

"We had some incredibly emotional and intense scenes - climactic scenes from both the second and third movies."

He said through the movie he had "hit his stride" as a director.

The audience were shown bloopers during filming, and Sir Ian McKellan delighted as he swore when he fluffed some lines.

One fan, from Denmark said she was going back to her homeland to study filmmaking and asked Sir Peter what advice he could offer.

"There's no reason to study anything. I think you should just make films," he advised.

Another fan reminded Sir Peter that after the Lord of the Rings trilogy, he said he doubted he would take part in a project of such magnitude again.

"I think I'll keep my mouth shut this time," Sir Peter replied.

Jed Brophy, who played the dwarf Nori in the films spoke after the session.

It was the first time he had seen any of the film in its finished state, and said it was the best film Sir Peter had made.

"I nearly cried, it was quite moving.

"It was mind blowing ... I had goosebumps."

He hoped to watch the entire movie with his "dwarf mates" at Sir Peter's personal movie theatre.


What the fans thought:

* Michelle Kroghhansen, who asked Sir Peter a question about studying film said it was a highlight to speak with him. "I'll still go back to study films."

* Courteney Hall: "It was so good, I'll definitely be at the premiere. The fact that they trusted us enough to show us (the film clip) was so good."

* Tim Simpson: "(The event) was absolutely brilliant - we need to see more of this stuff around. It's a huge inspiration, especially to other film makers."

* Saskia Gottstein: "I loved it - especially that they connected the four cities with each other and you could ask questions of someone in another country. I can't wait for the premiere"

* Roy Jamieson: "To have Peter Jackson turn up was just awesome. To be part of something that was international was great and then to see that footage was just awesome - Smaug's lair was just too cool - I can't wait to see the movie."


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