Sir Peter saves Hobbit fans' day

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 09:06 07/11/2012

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Sir Peter Jackson has stepped in to ensure Hobbit fans who fell victim to an Embassy Theatre ticketing error see the movie ''possibly even a minute or two before anyone else''.

Tolkien Society New Zealand chapter founder Jack Machiela was one of about 60 people who queued outside the Wellington cinema to be among the first in the world to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on The Embassy's giant screen when public screenings begin at midnight on December 12.

But when the ticket office opened, all the tickets to the first screening on the big screen had been snapped up online.

This was despite the theatre, on its Facebook page, promising: ''Our line for The Hobbit tickets has already started! Tickets are on sale from midnight so get in online or come join us here in person!!''

Then, just after midnight, the Embassy posted: ''The online sessions appearing as sold out are sold out - it is not a glitch. Online sales opened 2 minutes before the onsite sales. We did our best to coincide the times. We will be screening for over 24 hour on opening day - so will be having a big opening day party atmosphere at Embassy.''

As fans vented their anger on Facebook, the Embassy, again posted to ''clarify'' the situation.

''There were no tickets made available either online or at the on site box office for either of the main auditorium sessions that are sold out for opening day. No-one missed a ticket for either of these sessions because of where they tried to buy tickets.

''I can assure you our on site box office was told to open as soon as the online sales appeared. We did our very best to sync this but there was a couple of minutes difference in the times.''

But this morning, director Peter Jackson's spokesman, Matt Dravitzki, told The Dominion Post 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 3D, 48 frames.  Possibly even a minute or two before anyone else.''

Machiela, a Lord of the Rings tour guide by day, confirmed he had been contacted by Dravitzki this morning, and exact details of what was being arranged had to be kept under wraps.

''He is going to make it right. He is very much looking after the people who took the time to queued.''

But he remained fuming at the Embassy which ''shat on us''.

''This is my life mate. We have been waiting for this moment for a long time.''

Machiela said Tolkien Society members had come to Wellington from as far away as Germany and Brazil so they could be among the first in the world to see The Hobbit at The Embassy.

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David Murray, who was first in line, said he arrived at the theatre at 5.45pm and told staff exactly which session he was interested in.

''They smiled and nodded. They knew what I was here for and they didn't say anything about tickets not being available.''

Murray said he had been checking with The Embassy for the last fortnight to make sure lining up was the safest way to secure tickets for the main cinema at midnight.

''I did all the right things. This is the first time I've queued up for tickets to the premiere of anything and I'm not impressed, to put it mildly. I'm actually quite angry.''

Wayne Phillips, who was second in line, said he would have stayed at home if he knew what was going to happen.

''I've been a Lord of the Rings fan since the 1970s when I first read the books ... I'm very disappointed.''

- The Dominion Post

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