The Hobbit front. The first movie of the trilogy has its world premier' />

At TimeOut this week, we're really getting into the spirit of things on The Hobbit front. The first movie of the trilogy has its world premiere next week - oh you heard? - and then it's opening in all its 3D 48-frames-per-second glory on December 13.

I'm heading off to Wellywood for the occasion. It's a pilgrimage I've made before, the films of Sir Peter Jackson having loomed large in my cushy so-called job as a freeloading entertainment journalist.

Must say, I'm really looking forward to seeing the movie - not just because there's a chance of adding to my much-envied collection of mouse pads and key rings marking my attendance at previous Jackson premieres.

But because it would be good to finally see what all the fuss has been about. Make that fusses. The troubles the production has faced and survived are well documented.


The Hobbit has had a rough ride, right from when it became an inevitable prequel after the mega-success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Yes, that previous franchise was the one which really put - warning, cliche alert - New Zealand movie-making on the map. Trouble is, once you are on the map you are easily found, whether it's by Hollywood studios or Australian actor unions wanting to maximise their opportunities.

Or overseas journalists picking some easy holes in an aligned tourist campaign labouring under a catchphrase that doesn't quite stack up. Or by zealous organisations like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which is behind the latest shitstorm to batter the production just this week.

Boy, just wait until PETA hears most of the vast dwarf beards and wigs are made of yak hair. But it may well be that the yaks will be getting their frizzy fibres returned, with thanks and a generous residual payment at the close of production.

But of course, I'm really looking forward to seeing just how that little book has become three big movies. It has an ensemble which looks like it could drink those Fellowship of the Ring blokes under a very low table.

So, I'm betting The Hobbit will be a whole lot funnier than the Lord of the Rings. Mainly because I've spent much of the past week chuckling at publicity pictures of The Hobbit's Company of Dwarves, who have, among their yak-wigged number, some well-known New Zealand faces. One of the dwarves has a bit of Orc axe permanently stuck in his head, which is probably not something that J.R.R. Tolkien purists will appreciate.

But after the dramas of getting The Hobbit on screen, we movie fans who have been looking forward to this most expected journey could do with a decent laugh about now.

- TimeOut