THERE SIMPLY is no way to put into words the collective experience Wellington is going through as “the middle of Middle Earth” today, Day One of another chapter in the Tolkien-Jackson saga unfolding right before our very eyes.
From the hush-hush preparations for The Hobbit two years ago, to the negotiations between New Line Cinema and the New Zealand government to bring the Hobbit production here, to the secretive casting for the major characters, to the post-production drama surrounding the movie, the various Hobbit-themed activities held in Wellington (Hobbit artisan fair, pre-screening events, to the red carpet gala for the actors associated with the movie), to finally the world premiere attended by almost every personality associated with the film, it’s hard for anyone in town not to get caught up in the mega-event.
Just to put into perspective how big this is for a small town like Wellington (that happens to be New Zealand’s capital), imagine, wherever you are, one-fourth of your city’s population attended an event like the premiere of a movie that contributed to the country’s economy in so many ways, used its creative and artistic expertise, revived its flagging retail trade, and detonated its tourism industry in every way possible. If you can do that, multiply what you’ve imagined about tenfold, and maybe you can approximate what this movie means not just to Wellington and New Zealand but the rest of J.R. Tolkien’s readers, present and future, all over the world.
I don’t consider myself a rabid Lord of the Rings / Hobbit fan but I have read the novels and watched the movies, and I know that the Hobbit, which in Hollywood terms is a prequel of the blockbusters but is actually a stand-alone movie that took place 60 years before the trilogy, is expected to earn for Sir Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema as much as the previous movies did.
We are used to hyperbole and superlatives, but the gross earnings of LOTR was US$2.91 billion.
It’s probably the saddest of sad tales, but Martin Freeman & Co. are less than 20km away from where I am now, in a Wellington suburb. And if not for my work and the certain gridlock on the highway between, I would probably have joined the multitudes waiting for the Hobbit cast. Sigh. At least I can watch on local TV though.
In the end, if you can transform your favorite childhood fairy tale into a 21st century mega-blockbuster and in the process allow your country to share humongously in the reflected glory of your movie-making genius, then you do deserve advance praise for all your future movies, the way Sir Peter Jackson does. That, I think, is the most important backstory behind The Hobbit and its expected supersuccess in the coming days, weeks, months and years.
- The Hobbit set to be unveiled in NZ (bigpondnews.com)
- The Hobbit: Middle Earth locations in New Zealand – in pictures (guardian.co.uk)
- New Zealand turns into Middle Earth (todayonline.com)
- Wellington prepares for The Hobbit world premiere (itv.com)
- Middle Earth mania in New Zealand for Hobbit debut (rappler.com)
- Hobbit fatigue setting in already (stuff.co.nz)
- Hobbits, dwarves and wizards arrive in Wellington (nzherald.co.nz)