The ‘Gateway to Middle-earth’ partners with Weta to support tourism initiatives welcoming guests to New Zealand
Two stunning Hobbit-inspired installations have been unveiled today at New Zealand’s biggest airport by Tourism New Zealand, Weta Workshop and Auckland Airport to celebrate the upcoming global premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), on November 28 in New Zealand.
Auckland International Airport, considered the Gateway to Middle-earth as it is where the vast majority of visitors to New Zealand first set foot, is supporting the efforts of Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand and other leading industry players who are working to enhance the country’s international profile as a fun, must-see tourism destination; an innovative and creative nation, and a great place to make films and do business.
“With more than 90 per cent of all long-haul visitor arrivals landing at Auckland Airport, that is where they will get to experience their first exciting taste of New Zealand,” says Adrian Littlewood, Chief Executive Officer for Auckland Airport.
"It is fantastic we are able to be part of the excitement and massive exposure that will be generated globally by these movies, and to support the impressive work being done by many others in the tourism industry to leverage this significant opportunity to promote New Zealand to international travellers."
The installations, which feature large statues and depictions from the film, are aimed to stimulate the imagination of travellers and form part of the hype around the movie’s upcoming release.
The Weta Workshop dwarf installation was designed by Weta concept designers Chris Guise and Rebekah Tisch, and incorporates two 16ft (5m) tall dwarf sculptures and four 20ft x 9ft (6.5m x 3m) archways in typical dwarven architectural design.
“We’re very excited to have partnered with Auckland Airport to create some of the first things that greet overseas visitors and returning New Zealanders when they land in Auckland,” says Weta Workshop Creative Director Richard Taylor.
“We have spent several years living and breathing Middle-earth again, and we’re thrilled to be able to share it in this way.”
The Tourism New Zealand installation is a 23m (75.5ft) lenticular display blending the fantasy of Middle-earth with the reality of New Zealand. It welcomes visitors “to a place where fantasy comes to life” and encourages them to share their Middle-earth experiences through social media channels at #realmiddleearth.
Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says the display aims to inspire travellers to take in more of New Zealand’s magical landscapes and activities, and to discover that there is a whole world of experiences to be had and people to meet within the movie-scene style landscapes.
Weta Workshop Concept Designer Paul Tobin says: "Typically our designs are focused to the moments of the journey that are touched upon by the script. With 100% Middle-earth we had the pleasure of venturing off the script and capturing aspects of Middle-earth inspired by New Zealand's beauty and moments that may be happening off camera."
“We have no doubt these movies will help amplify awareness of New Zealand in a global sense, and will help open up markets for a wide range of different tourism promotions that can build awareness of New Zealand’s many world-class tourism attractions. It’s up to the collective industry to make the most of this opportunity, and we intend to play our part,” added Mr Littlewood.
The Weta Workshop sculptures have been partly milled from a 3D computer design, partly hand sculpted from huge blocks of polystyrene. These were then coated in polyurethane to achieve durability and a perfect finish for the final painting and dressing.
The installation was created in its entirety by Weta Workshop and has been dressed and installed by several long-time Weta model makers for whom this isn’t the first visit to Middle-earth, like Paul van Ommen and Greg Allison who worked on Weta’s Bigatures for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy over 10 years ago.
Both installations will be on display until March next year.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and the second and third films of The Hobbit Trilogy are productions of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production. Warner Bros. Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be released in New Zealand on 12 December 2012.