Night goggles for Hobbit screening

Security guards will be sporting night vision goggles at a special screening in Nelson of The Hobbit, all in the name of preventing video piracy.

A team of four security guards have been commissioned to wear night vision goggles.

They're going to screen the use of any technological devices at the special pre-screening of the second instalment of The Hobbit tomorrow at the State Cinema.

Air New Zealand staff, as the leading Hobbit promotions distribution partner, were invited to watch the special screening at 6.30pm.

This is almost six hours before the rest of the world.

Warner Bros' New Zealand distribution company, Roadshow, paid for the devices, that had to be shipped from Auckland for the showing.

State Cinema promotions manager Louise Egan said the high level of security was bizarre but equally lots of fun.

Roadshow demanded there be two security guards present in a visible part of the cinema with goggles on, one guard at the entry and one guard in the projector room, she said.

The goggles were to be used to spot anyone attempting to illegally film the movie, she said.

"We all laughed when we heard what we had to do." She could only assume the security was strict because all of New Zealand wanted a piece of the Peter Jackson pie, Ms Egan said.

"It is very serious but also very funny."

She could not tell how much the special security cost.

"The security company just laughed when we said there had to be goggles, saying only the armed offenders squad would have them in Nelson.

"I do not think we will be having any trouble. At least the guards will get a chance to play with the new toys."

Roadshow also wanted the cinema to use security wands to check for technological devices in people's handbags at the door, she said.

"That was too extreme for us," she said.

While most pre-screenings were being held at the main centres, Nelson's State Cinema was included because of the great quality of the cinema.

It was the best in the country, Ms Egan said.

"It is quite beautiful and comfortable," she said.

Refurbishments had just about finished.

They involve cinema two having new seats, new curtains and new sound, she said.