Gandalf has given the proposed Wellywood sign on a hill above Wellington airport the thumbs down but thinks "Middle Earth" would be a winner.

Sir Ian McKellen, who played the famous wizard in The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, told the Dominion Post he was baffled by the airport's effort to erect the sign, which would mimic the famous Hollywood version.

"I think that would be a very odd sign to put up," he said from London yesterday.

As an alternative, Sir Ian went back to his Rings days. "Middle-earth - I'd approve of that," he said.

The Wellywood sign was backed by director Sir Peter Jackson and Mayor Kerry Prendergast, but rejected by Wellingtonians.

One poll found 80 per cent of respondents thought the sign "tacky".

The airport has agreed to consider other options - but says it will stick with Wellywood if nothing better is suggested.