The Hobbit premiere red carpet draws 1000s

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Last updated 19:20 28/11/2012

Sir Peter Jackson talks with fans

The Hobbit premiere red carpet
HENRY COOKE/Fairfax NZ Zoom
A view of the end of Courtenay Pl near the Embassy Theatre as the premiere event for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey heats up.

The Hobbit press conference

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The premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey could not have gone more smoothly, with perfect weather, glamorous stars and huge crowds.

The stars and crew behind the Hobbit  finished the 500 metre journey down the red carpet before heading in to see the world premiere of the film

The weather was wonderful, reaching 22degC as stars signed autographs, fans cheered and Andy Serkis ran along the red carpet high-fiving people as Wellington celebrated the premiere in style.

About 100,000 fans - many in costume - lined Courtenay Pl for the event, in scenes reminiscent of the Return of the King premiere in 2005.

"This is echoing in the past for me," Elijah Wood, who plays Frodo Baggins, said.

Despite large crowds, police reported well-behaved crowds - something the film's lead actor Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins, commented on.

"For a baying mob, they are very well-behaved."

With some in the crowd having camped out overnight to nab the best spots, the party atmosphere kicked off long before the A-listers arrived, with the film’s trailer and Neil Finn keeping the crowds entertained.

The red carpet walk officially began at 4.30pm, with many of the big names among the first to arrive.

For most, it took about two hours to walk the 500m carpet to the Embassy Theatre, as the big names stopped to talk to fans and sign autographs.

The film's director Sir Peter Jackson said there was no better place to release the film.

'It's the home crowd isn’t it? You can't do better."

He did admit, however, he had little choice in where the premiere would be held.

"I do know that if I didn't have a movie here for the premiere, I’d be in awful trouble. I’d be in the poo, as we say."

Work on the film had gone down to the wire, and he had only seen a full version a few days ago.

For many in the cast, tonight would be their first viewing of the film.

"I'm hoping I am still in this film," Barry Humphries, who plays The Great Goblin said.

Others to grace the red carpet included Cate Blanchett, who turned heads in a dress with a red chiffon top, white midriff and long black skirt - even posing for a photo with Dominion Post editor Bernadette Courtney.

She said she was excited to see the movie, but sad that Sir Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf, wasn’t there for the premiere.

But Sir Ian was there in spirit, sending a video message from London.

"I wish I were there in my spiritual home in Wellington."

Viewers were in for a treat, he said.

The first screening was due to start showing at 7.30pm in both the Reading and Embassy cinemas.

A spokesman for Wellington Free Ambulance said it had been a very quiet day. They treated four people for a mild heat exhaustion, but they were back in the crowd after fluids.

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