It was an unexpected journey across town that lit up the night for hundreds of the world's keenest Tolkien fans.
Film-maker Sir Peter Jackson and actor Elijah Wood, who was Frodo in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, made a surprise appearance last night at a Hobbit pre- premiere party in Wellington, organised by fansite TheOneRing .net.
Jackson told fans the finishing touches to The Hobbit were completed only on Sunday, and the final edit was screened to a select group of cast and crew that night.
"Elijah saw it last night. Unfortunately that means we'll have to kill him," Jackson said.
Wood - with bodyguard in attendance - greeted all those fans dressed as Frodo, and both he and Jackson signed autographs and posed for photographs.
At least 500 people attended the party, with the vast majority in elaborate costume. About 100 of that number were on a dedicated Hobbit premiere tour.
Organiser and TheOneRing.net founder Erica Challis was thrilled the stars had decided to attend.
"We invited them, but we didn't know whether they'd come."
Another surprise was in store yesterday for many of the 2000 people invited to tomorrow's premiere, when it turned out that about 1250 of them will not be seeing it with the stars at the Embassy Theatre, which was decked out with Dolby's new Atmos sound system last month especially for the event.
Instead, they will watch it at the nearby Reading Cinema, which is closed for the day.
The forecast remains good for the afternoon's walk down the red carpet. MetService is forecasting a dry day with patchy cloud, and northerly winds of 30 to 40 kmh. The expected high is 19 degrees Celsius.
Meanwhile, Wellington City Council is claiming its Hobbit- themed artisan market to be a "huge success so far" after an estimated 15,000 people visited Waitangi Park during the weekend. About 1500 people watched a screening of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on Sunday night.
SOUVENIR EDITION: See tomorrow's Dominion Post for a world premiere special edition, including a free Hobbit poster and exclusive interviews with Sir Peter Jackson and the film's stars.
- The Dominion Post