World-first glimpse of Peter Jackson's ‘Smaug’

New Zealanders have become the first people in the world to view Peter Jackson’s theatrical interpretation of 'Smaug'.

Air New Zealand exclusively revealed a custom-painted Boeing 777-000 aircraft with a 54-metre (177 feet) long dragon emblazoned on both sides at Auckland airport on Monday (2.12.13).

An unexpected reveal

The striking reveal comes just 10 days before the worldwide release of the second instalment of The Hobbit Trilogy - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Smaug had been left to the imagination of filmgoers since the ending of the first film in The Hobbit Trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The film finished with just a glimpse of Smaug’s glowing eye - leaving it to fans to envisage for themselves how he might look in Peter Jackson’s imagination.

This is the second 777-300 inspired by The Hobbit Trilogy in the Air New Zealand fleet. The first was unveiled last year to coincide with the launch of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and has been wowing fans around the world since.

Enormous scale

Director of The Hobbit Trilogy, Sir Peter Jackson, says while the first aircraft, featuring various characters from the first film, was extremely impressive the enormous scale of the single dragon running the entire length of the aircraft is even more awe inspiring.

"To see Smaug fly off the big screen and into the skies like this is pretty exciting. We’re proud to debut him here in New Zealand, where our team has worked so hard to bring him to life."

Visual Effects Supervisor Eric Saindon of Weta Digital says designing a graphic which not only fits with Peter Jackson’s creative vision but also meets the various specifications required to fit on an aircraft was no mean feat.

"Capturing Smaug’s presence and the amazing detail in his design while accommodating the windows, doors and wing shape was quite a different experience for us," said Saindon.

"It was great to see Smaug brought to life, and he appears even larger in the film!"

The aircraft will head to Los Angeles on Monday evening (2.12.13), to arrive just in time for the glittering premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on 2 December (US time).

About 'The Hobbit' Trilogy

The second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduring and popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventures of title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and 13 dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a production of New Line Cinema and 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: The Desolation of Smaug opens worldwide beginning on Friday, December 13, 2013.