Wellington: The Middle of Middle-Earth

Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Photo / Supplied
Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Photo / Supplied

The countdown has started for when the spotlight shines on Wellington for the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, on November 28.

With just over 50 days to go, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and Matthew Dravitski from Wingnut Films today started a clock on top of the Embassy Theatre that will count down the days and hours until the first of the trilogy movies is shown.

Ms Wade-Brown today also announced that for the week of the premiere, the capital would be renamed the "Middle of Middle-earth''.

She said $1.1 million would be spent on the movie and events leading up to it in the capital.

There will be 500 metres of red carpet running from Taranaki Street to the theatre, and the film's stars and director Sir Peter Jackson would be walking along it over a period of two hours.

Visitors flying into Wellington airport will be greeted with Hobbit art "the size of a small jetplane'', Ms Wade-Brown said.

A Hobbit-inspired Artisan Festival in Waitangi Park would showcase the work of craftspeople who worked on the Hobbit trilogy.

"Wellington sits at the very heart of New Zealand's innovative and thriving film industry,'' Ms Wade-Brown said.

The Middle of Middle-earth logo was designed by Daniel Reeve, an artist who worked on the cartography and calligraphy for The Hobbit Trilogy.

He paid homage to Wellington by putting a map of the city in the image, as well as a koru leaf representing New Zealand.

Mr Reeve said the round green door with a brass doorknob was an iconic image of Middle-earth and the Hobbit.

"There's the circular golden ring of course (which also) picks up the ring from both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.''

In a statement, Sir Peter said he was thrilled the movie would premiere in Wellington.

"It's special showing any film to an audience for the first time, but even more so when it's in your home town.''

Mr Dravitski said Sir Peter was "incredibly supportive'' of Wellington changing its name for a week in celebration of the movie.

He would not divulge which of the cast members would be walking the red carpet, but said most would be here.

"It's obviously a huge cast and they're from all around the world and I know if they could be here in Wellington they will be.''

Ms Wade-Brown said no plans had yet been made for the next two movies in the trilogy.
By the numbers:

* Last year the Wellington film industry generated $495 million;

* In Wellington over the last 10 years, 3000 people have been employed in the film industry;

* More than 750 businesses are directly connected with the industry in Wellington;

* Media from more than 100 organisations worldwide will cover the premiere;

* During filming more than 91,000 hotel room nights were booked throughout New Zealand.

- APNZ

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