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Embassy Theatre ready for its close-up

By Jessica Beresford in Wellington

Published: 3:42PM Tuesday November 27, 2012 Source: ONE News

Last-minute preparations are underway at The Embassy Theatre in Wellington as staff ready the venue for the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey tomorrow.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to line the 500-metre red carpet, which stretches from the St James Theatre along Courtenay Place to the Embassy.

Manager Elly Morris said the theatre had been attracting a lot of attention ahead of the first official screening, with people trying to catch a glimpse of what is in store for the guests.

"A lot of people have been coming in to see the building who haven't seen it before," she said.

"Every time I look out the window there are people stopping to take photos of the big Gandalf."

The theatre has been counting down to the premiere for two weeks and Morris said the sign, which currently reads "1 day to go" will change at midnight tonight.

As well as cosmetic changes, the theatre, which opened in 1924, has undergone technical changes to bring it up to standard for the new technology of The Hobbit films. This includes new speakers for the Dolby Atmos sound system, a new projector for the 48-frames-per-second film and a new screen for 3D viewing.

"It's a big change for any theatre but especially because we are a historic theatre, there are lots of different aspects to the construction," Morris said.

"But they've done a really good job, you can hardly see the speakers."

Businesses surrounding the theatre and along Courtenay Place have also been preparing for the expected hordes of people, with many venues fully booked for private functions.

The manager of the Capitol Restaurant, which shares a wall with the Embassy, said the eatery would be closed for the whole day for a booking with "high-profile guests".

"It should be a big day. Last time it was all down [Courtenay Place] and we are right next to the red carpet," Matthew Bocock said.

Guests are due to start arriving on the red carpet tomorrow from 4.30pm.

Morris said it was exciting to have some of the Lord of the Rings actors back for the premiere.

"It's really nice to have some of the original cast members back, like Elijah wood, Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving.

"We are very sad Sir Ian (McKellen) isn't coming, but he's still very involved in the premiere."

ONE News and will have live coverage of the premiere tomorrow. ONE News will be using the hashtag #HobbitNZ for all Hobbit-related tweets.

By Jessica Beresford