Hobbit fans pipped by tourism booking

TOM HUNT
Last updated 13:58 07/11/2012
Embassy Hobbit queue
EMBASSY THEATRE
A photo from Embassy Theatre's Facebook page showing fans queuing for tickets to the Hobbit, which went on sale at midnight last night.

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Hobbit fans who queued until midnight were beaten by a Wellington City Council-funded organisation which had already scooped all the tickets for the film's first public outing at the Embassy Theatre.

About 60 fans queued to get tickets to the 12.01, December 12 screening at the Embassy, considered the home of the Lord of the Rings and where The Hobbit will premiere. They were left fuming when they found tickets had already sold out before the box office opened.

Positively Wellington Tourism (PWT) this afternoon announced it had booked the screening for a campaign that will see tickets given away to ''fans of the films and Wellington''.

PWT general manager Sarah Meikle said, following reading about the debacle this morning, she had been in frantic discussions with Peter Jackson's Wingnut Films, Event Cinemas, and Roadshow to sort it out.

It was decided 120 tickets would be given to the 60-odd fans who queued, with a further 60 given to other fans. The rest would be distributed with a luck-of-the-draw lottery.

She would not reveal why Sir Peter was involved in discussions this morning.

However, earlier today Sir Peter's spokesman Matt Dravitzki said the dedication of the fans had not gone unnoticed.

''We're going to reach out to Jack Machiela and the NZ Tolkien Society directly, and Peter will arrange something special for them. Suffice to say, they'll get to see the movie in 3-D, 48 frames.  Possibly even a minute or two before anyone else.''

The PWT event was planned eight weeks ago.

"We hope people understand our heart is in the right place in planning a special event to which a cinema of tickets will be gifted to fans,'' Meikle said.

The Embassy still has tickets for a much smaller cinema screening of the film at 12.01am on December 12.

PWT, which is funded through the council by commercial ratepayers, spent $14,000 on hiring the theatre.

Ms Meikle said she was ''very sorry that people missed out''.

Event Cinemas general manager Carmen Switzer said the cinema would shoulder the blame.

"It is hugely regrettable and I sincerely apologise for the disappointment fans experienced queuing last night. We should have communicated that the first public screening in the main Embassy Theatre was 3am and the 12.01 tickets were for the [smaller] deluxe theatres only.''

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The PWT campaign will launch next Thursday, with more than 600 tickets available.

The 120 given to die-hard fans would be allocated to those who queued last night plus more allocated with the help of Tolkien Society New Zealand chapter founder Jack Machiela, one of those who missed out.

- The Dominion Post

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