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Jessica Beresford: Hobbit hype bigger and better than LOTR


By Jessica Beresford

Published: 1:46PM Thursday October 11, 2012 Source: ONE News

The Lord of the Rings trilogy boosted New Zealand as a filmmaking destination in terms of production and as a film set (mainly if said film requires a backdrop of sprawling hills, grandiose mountains and snowy slopes).

The trilogy proved something great could come from our wee country down under, bagging 17 Academy Awards and setting a high precedent for the next trilogy of films inspired by the late and great JRR Tolkien.

While the question as to whether The Hobbit will trump LOTR in terms of awards, critical acclaim and sales remains to be answered, what can be compared is the hype leading up to the release of the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Some of the actors who have starred in both trilogies have said the production of The Hobbit seems bigger and better than that of the Lord of the Rings - and everyone seems to want a slice of the pie.

A few LOTR actors have come back for second helpings, namely Elijah Wood (Frodo), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel) and Orlando Bloom (Legolas), starring in The Hobbit despite their characters not appearing in the original book.

Sir Peter Jackson and his team have also been feeding the beast like never before, leaking posters and a series of movie trailers in preparation for the release.

Wellington City Council and Tourism NZ also seem to be building on what was done from Lord of the Rings to make it bigger and better than its Tolkien-inspired predecessors - naming the capital " The Middle of Middle-Earth " and throwing money at the premiere, among other things.

So, if the The Hobbit is going to be bigger and better than any movie ever made in New Zealand, does that mean the stars will turn out in Wellington to march down the red carpet next month?

If the turn out for Return of the King is anything to go by, the main drag could see many of the stars tread down it again.

Jolly Jackson will obviously be in attendance, along with his wife and co-producer Fran Walsh. Another local I hope will get out of bed for the occasion is co-Conchord Bret McKenzie, who is revisiting his role of Figwit from LOTR (but as an actual character, Lindir).

I think Gandalf the Grey is pretty much guaranteed too, as Sir Ian McKellen doesn't seem to ever want to leave our shores.

Bloom and his supermodel wife Miranda Kerr spent a while in Wellington during filming for the movies, maybe they were so taken by their stay they would be willing to make another visit.

However, we may have to wait until next year to see Stephen Fry on our shores again as his character, the Master of Laketown, only stars in the Desolation of Smaug (the second Hobbit film).

And what of the twelve dwarves, who make up the central component of the film?

Although they may be relatively unknown now, the dwarves featured in The Hobbit will no doubt rise to fame just as the likes of Dominic Monagan, Billy Boyd and Sean Astin did as Hobbits in Lord of the Rings.

Ones to look out for are Aidan Turner, who plays Kili, and of course Richard Armitage, who starred in Spooks or more recently The Avengers, and plays Thorin Oakenshield.

So maybe, if we're lucky, as well bagging us at least a few Oscar nominations, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will see all the stars turn out in Wellywood for a big knees up, Middle of Middle-Earth style.

Read more by Jessica Beresford or follow her on Twitter .