Hobbit costume trail for Middle of Middle-earth

A trail of Dwarves, Elves, a Hobbit and a Wizard will offer Middle-earth fans a rare opportunity to see the artistry behind 'The Hobbit' Trilogy up close in Wellington this summer.

To celebrate the release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and thank Wellington - otherwise known as the Middle of Middle-earth - for its support over the past 15 years, Sir Peter Jackson is lending more than 20 costumes and props created by 3 foot 7 and Weta Workshop for The Middle of Middle-earth Costume Trail.

Positively Wellington Tourism Chief Executive David Perks says the trail across 15 locations will launch to coincide with the opening of the third film in The Hobbit Trilogy - The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Artists -in New Zealand cinemas on 11 December, and remain in the city until the end of February.

Half a million guest nights are spent in Wellington across the summer period.

“It’s very special for locals and visitors to get this opportunity to see the incredible artistry involved in making these films in Wellington, and to see up close the detail and technique that goes into these amazing costume creations,” David Perks says.

Real Middle-earth costumes

Matt Dravitzki of Wingnut Films says the costumes on display will be ones featured in the films themselves, rather than replicas.  

“These costumes are a big part of how we tell the on-screen story of Bilbo, Thorin, Legolas, Bard and the others. In each of them you see not just their culture, but the character’s individual history and personality. From the depth of conception to the skill of execution, they are truly works of art in their own right, and we’re delighted that the public will have a chance to explore them at close range here in Wellington,” Matt says.

Film tourism

Film tourism is no longer just about locations, according to David Perks.

“Visitors flying into Wellington Airport are greeted by Gollum reaching out to catch a fish, Gandalf flying atop a giant eagle and Smaug breathing smoke; these are some of the most photographed attractions in the country.”

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the world-class creativity on display is a reflection of the city’s strengths.

“3 foot 7 and Weta Workshop are quintessentially Wellington innovation teams who create and explore new ways of doing things every day. The imagination of these people underlines Wellington’s credentials as a smart, creative capital.”

Middle of Middle-earth Costume Trail

The Middle of Middle-earth Costume Trail will open in Wellington on 11 December at various locations, including Te Papa – Museum of New Zealand, Embassy Theatre, Roxy Cinema, Kirkcaldie & Stains department store, Wellington i-SITE Visitor Centre and Wellington Airport.

Details and a map will be available from the Wellington i-SITE in Civic Square and at MiddleofMiddle-earth.com from 11 December.

Selfies at Te Papa

In addition to the costume trail, Te Papa – Museum of New Zealand is promoting a new ‘selfie’ photo op with Azog the Defiler – ‘the biggest, baddest Orc of all’.

In The Hobbit movies, Azog the Defiler is a digital creature played by actor Manu Bennett and created using Motion Capture technology by visual effects artists at Weta Digital.

The fibreglass statue was created by Weta Workshop to promote the final instalment of the movie trilogy The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

At 3.5 metres (11’ 6”) from heels to the blades of his mace, Azog makes a formidable foe. As the eye falls on the loin cloth where the faces of his unfortunate victims stare back at the viewer, turning and running seems a logical option - unless you are the fearless Thorin Oakenshield … or want to take a selfie.

Other Hobbit costumes, including an Elf solider and Elf lieutenant, will also be on display at Te Papa as part of the Costume Trail. Azog will be on display until March 2015.

Wellington film tourism

In the 15 years since the first scene for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was filmed on Wellington’s Mount Victoria on 11 October 1999, thousands of fans have made the pilgrimage to Oscar-winning director Sir Peter Jackson’s home town.

As The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies gets set to release around the world, the Middle-earth journey may be coming to a conclusion on screen, but it’s only just the beginning for the real Middle-earth, says Mr Perks.

“The legacy of one of the most ambitious film-making projects of all time will continue for many years to come. Like the books on which they are based, these movies will be loved and inspire pilgrimages for generations.”

In the 12 months following the première of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in November 2012, sales of film tourism-related tours and product through Wellington’s i-SITE Visitor Centre grew by over NZ$200,000 - an increase of over 20% in 12 months.

“That is but a small proportion of sales of film experiences around the region, with many customers going direct to companies such as Wellington Rover Tours, Weta Workshop and Red Carpet Tours,” David Perks says.

Weta Manager of Tourism Jake Downing says visitors to the Weta Cave have more than doubled since the mini museum opened six years ago, while the Weta Cave Workshop Tour has attracted more than 100,000 guests in just under two years.

“People often ask if demand is softening as the Trilogy comes to a close, but in fact the reality is the complete opposite.”

Tourism New Zealand’s International Visitor Survey indicates that 13% of the more than 2.5 million international visitors to the country in the year to June 2014 noted the The Hobbit Trilogy was a factor in stimulating their interest in New Zealand as a destination. 

About film-making in Wellington

Wellington’s film-makers continue to attract high-profile projects that draw on Wellington’s creative talent and technical skill to entertain millions. James Cameron’s Avatar sequels and a multi-million dollar remake of Disney’s 1970s fantasy film Pete’s Dragon are among high profile projects shortly due to begin in New Zealand’s creative capital, says Film Wellington’s Nicci Lock.

“Wellington has become a spiritual home for film-makers and actors from around the world, with Guillermo del Toro describing the city as ‘Hollywood the way God intended it’ and Elijah Wood saying it’s like a homecoming every time he returns.

“As the costume trail will demonstrate, it’s the commitment to the art and complete passion for film that set Wellington apart as a film-making destination.”

About The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The film, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro Goldwyn-Meyer Pictures (MGM), is the third and final film in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit Trilogy and releases across New Zealand cinemas on December 11.

New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Present a Wingnut Films Production, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.  As with the first two films in the Trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the final film is a production 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.