Cameras watching for cameras at Hobbit

Anti-piracy systems were installed in the Reading Courtenay cinemas where The Hobbit premieres were screened, to prevent the invited guests taking cellphone or camera shots of the movie.

The systems were installed a fortnight ago in each of the five cinemas where the film was screened on Wednesday evening, Reading Courtenay complex manager Erik Stevens said.

"It's basically a camera that sits at the top of the screen that scans people for cellphones or cameras.

"You have to be careful because there were all sorts of people here - executives from other studios, prize winners. Piracy was obviously taken seriously."

He said that no one was ejected from the cinemas for potential breaches.

"Everybody was well-behaved and had a great time. There were lots of positive comments about the film on the way out."

At least 10 of the actors who played the 13 dwarfs in the movie saw it at the Reading, Mr Stevens said, "and everybody cheered when they came on screen".

About 1200 people attended the premieres at Reading Courtenay, while 700 A-listers watched at the Embassy.

Guests at all the screenings were reminded by security staff to switch off their phones on entry.

After the movie, the big names from The Hobbit partied on the Wellington waterfront, while the film's backers are thought to have dined on tapas at the other end of town.

Director Sir Peter Jackson and stars Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis and Sylvester McCoy headed for Shed 5 and Dockside, along with others including Neil Finn, Jemaine Clement and John Key.

Both restaurants were cordoned off with fences lit with orange and purple lights.

Meanwhile, The Dominion Post understands some Warner Brothers executives headed instead for the Havana tapas restaurant in Wigan St.

Others who attended the premiere - including reality television host and fashion commentator Colin Mathura-Jeffree - ended up at an after-party organised by TV3 at The Establishment bar.

While the guests were partying, a team of 200 were working until dawn yesterday clearing Courtenay Place of red carpet and barricades in time for the first trolley bus at 5.15am.

Event director Jamie Wilson said the red carpet was rolled up and stored away with barricades for the next premiere, though it was uncertain whether Wellington would host another Hobbit premiere.

The rubbish was minimal, considering the huge number of people packed into Courtenay Place, he said.

Crowd estimates have ranged wildly, from 20,000 to 25,000 by Wellington City Council to 50,000-60,000 by police, and up to 100,000 by those who were there.

Inspector Terry Van Dillen, who ran the police operation, said the crowd was well-behaved with no premiere-related arrests.

One young boy became separated from his parents, but was reunited with them within 10 minutes.

The Dominion Post