Hobbiton clouded in secrecy

LOUISE RISK
Last updated 05:00 28/09/2011
SHIRE FOR HIRE: A bunch of hobbits is due to return to Hobbiton, near Matamata, for filming of The Hobbit, but hotel and motel owners are keeping mum about the number of extras due in town.
DONNA WALSH/ Waikato Times

SHIRE FOR HIRE: A bunch of hobbits is due to return to Hobbiton, near Matamata, for filming of The Hobbit, but hotel and motel owners are keeping mum about the number of extras due in town.

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Dozens of small-statured folk are ready to dance their way onto the Shire next month, but even Matamata accommodation providers are in the dark as to exactly when the big influx of little extras will hit the region.

Publicist for 3 Foot 7 Ceris Price said 90 people were selected late last year from the 1200-odd who applied to be Matamata-based hobbit extras in The Hobbit, but because people turned up "from all over" for the auditions, she did not know how many were from Waikato.

But like everyone else involved in the making of Peter Jackson's latest film, if there was hobbits grooming their toe-hairs in the Waikato, they were doing it with their lips firmly sealed.

Ian Brodie, media and communications manager for Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tours, said confidentiality contracts meant anyone involved in The Hobbit in any capacity was bound to silence.

"I don't know of any locals who are actually cast because they've all had to sign non-disclosures as well.

"Well, I know of one, but they would not be allowed to speak to you."

A Matamata motel owner, who would not be named, said they were expecting Hollywood to roll into town in "late October". "But the date has changed three or four times already. It's weather dependent, I think."

The owner said he was not concerned about the potential loss of regular customers with the changing dates, as they had been assured it would not result in them losing out financially.

The Waikato Times spoke to owners at all five motels in Matamata. They were either under contract or in "discussion" with 3 Foot 7 to accommodate the Hollywood big shots and the little Kiwi extras.

The Hobbiton Movie Set will be closed to the public from October 5 until November 8, but filming was likely to last just three weeks within that time frame.

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- Waikato Times

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