Public split on Wellywood

BY DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 09:09 10/03/2010
Wellywood

SIGN OF THE TIMES: A Hollywood-style sign due to be placed above Miramar Wharf has drawn both support and criticism.

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LATEST: Sir Peter Jackson was adamant that a Wellywood sign in Miramar should be "an exact copy" of the Hollywood sign, according to Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast.

But public opinion is split on whether or not it is a great way of celebrating the success of the film industry or just a tacky gimmick.

Wellington Airport said yesterday that it would put a 28-metre-long sign, standing 3.5m high, on steep hillside land it owns next to the Miramar cutting. The sign will be installed in June.

Polls on both dompost.co.nz and stuff.co.nz were split on the merits of the sign.

A Facebook group - A Wellywood Sign On The Miramar Cutting Is A Stupid Idea - had attracted 859 members this morning. Another page, the "Hey, let's NOT have a 'WELLYWOOD' sign in Wellington" group has more than 3330 members.

Those opposed to the sign said it was tacky and an unoriginal take on the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles.

Ms Prendergast said the Wellywood sign was backed by Weta Workshop boss Richard Taylor and movie director Jackson.

"Peter was really clear about it being an exact copy of the Hollywood sign because he wanted it to be a send-up. He and Richard epitomise creativity and innovation in this city and I'm going to go with their judgment."

Ms Prendergast defended the sign on Radio New Zealand this morning, saying it would be a great way to welcome visitors flying into the capital.

Jackson said he was "thrilled that Wellington Airport were paying tribute to the Kiwi craftsmen and women who created the movie magic that entertains all corners of our planet".

Wellington Airport chief executive Steve Fitzgerald said using anything other than a "tongue-in-cheek play" on the Hollywood sign did not make sense. "The idea of having a ... fun play on the most famous sign in the world has an instant recognition factor that anything else would struggle to match."

Enterprise Miramar Peninsula chairman Allan Probert said a Wellywood sign had been talked about for the past 10 years but was not well supported.

"The feedback I've had is that it is tacky and there are concerns about what it will look like in a few years. Will taggers see it as the ultimate challenge?"

Mr Fitzgerald admits that graffiti will be a problem. "It is a pretty difficult site to get to but there is no doubt people will have a go at tagging it. But ... we will get it back into good shape quickly."

WHAT THE READERS SAY

Dompost.co.nz and Stuff.co.nz readers were heavily critical of the Wellywood sign proposal, though a minority applauded the effort to celebrate the capital's film industry.

"Seriously? Tell me this is an early April Fools' joke. Who came up with this ultra-lame copycat idea?" LJW

"As a temp sign during the Oscars every year it would be great fun, but having it installed full time is a ridiculous and farcical piece of deadbrain thinking." love wellington, but

"This sign would be embarrassing. We are proud that we are NOT Hollywood. We don't subscribe to the image of a star-filled city when we know it's actually quite seedy and Hollywood Boulevard smells of urine. We are above this!" Darryn Sigley

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"I think it's a fantastic idea! Let's celebrate Wellington's amazing successes in the film industry! C'mon, get behind it, and put Wellington on the international map as an fabulous and vibrant destination!" Trish Bullard

"Something like this doesn't celebrate the success our film industry has had - it cheapens it and turns it into a joke." Simon

"Mosgiel anyone? The Mosgiel sign is at least ironic because even the locals know how lame Mosgiel is, a Wellywood sign is just embarrassing." t i g

- The Dominion Post

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