Fans to dress the part for Hobbit
'Like American football but with swords'CHRIS GARDNER
The Waikato's most dedicated Middle-earth fans will strap on their hairy hobbit feet and battle armour tonight for the general release of Sir Peter Jackson's The Hobbit Part 1: An Unexpected Journey.
Hamilton-based lecturer Alista Fow, in the Middle-earth inspired armour he has worn to the midnight showings of all three The Lord of the Rings movies, is leading a group of about 10 people in costume to Event Cinemas in Chartwell for the film's general release.
"I am expecting to see The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings but a little bit more family friendly, as The Hobbit was originally a children's book," Mr Fow said.
His group are involved in live fantasy role play in public places around the city, and includes players in Waikato University's Orcball league which he described as "like American football but with swords".
"We want to make sure The Hobbit film is historically accurate and an accurate version of what we remember," Mr Fow joked about J R R Tolkien's book set before The Lord of the Rings.
The Waikato and the King Country are expected to benefit from the film with hobbit-seeking tourists keen to visit locations used during filming.
The opening scenes were shot at the Hobbiton Movie Set, near Matamata, with some of the journey filmed in the King Country locations of Wharepuhunga and near Piopio.
Ruakuri Cave, at Waitomo Caves Village, was also used for the sound effects of The Hobbit's caves.
DWARVES PRAISE HOBBITON
If you want to know how authentic the Hobbiton movie set is near Matamata just ask a dwarf.
While The Hobbit story starts with 13 dwarves arriving under the cover of darkness at Bag End, the home of Bilbo Baggins in Hobbiton, all of the dwarf actors Hobbiton scenes were filmed at Sir Peter Jackson's sound stages at Miramar in Wellington.
''This is our first day here,'' said actor Mark Hadlow, who plays Dori. ''We did all the interiors at Mirimar, then suddenly we find ourselves outside Bag End.''
Ten of the 13 actors to play dwarves in the trilogy were recently at Hobbiton for the opening of The Green Dragon pub, by Prime Minister John Key.
They were on hand to be interviewed by more than 120 journalists from around the world who had been flown to New Zealand by Warner Brothers, the studio behind the films, to promote the films in the international media.
Mr Hadlow talked to the Waikato Times as he downed a beer at The Green Dragon pub, where The Hobbit art director Brian Massey had overseen an interior fit out done to match the Mirimar film set.
''Very nice, and I am not a great beer drinker,'' Mr Hadlow said of the craft beer brewed especially for Hobbiton by Hamilton brewery Good George.
''Very thirst quenching on a day that's very hot. We are going to have people bursting through the gates to get this brew. There's nothing like a good handle.''
''What an amazing place,'' said William Kircher who plays Bifur.
Mr Kircher already had a connection with Hobbiton since his father in law, Hamilton City Council member deputy mayor Gordon Chesterman, appeared in The Fellowship of the Ring as a hobbit.
''This is going to be one of the most successful tourist attractions in New Zealand,'' he said.
He was impressed with how well the interior of The Green Dragon at Hobbiton was replicated by Mr Massey who also built the set in Wellington.
''They were the most beautiful sets.''
Actor Peter Hambleton, who played Gloin the dwarf, was also impressed with Mr Massey's attention to detail at Hobbiton.
''It's amazing, like everything else to do with his project it's beyond words,'' he said. ''They have done a beautiful job and I think loads of people are going to come here and love it.''
Both Mr Mr Kircher and Mr Hambleton said they'd like to return to Hobbiton on a quieter day with thier families to drink it all in.
Actor Jed Brophy, who plays Nori the dwarf, had been to Hobbiton before since he played one of the black riders hunting the one ring in The Lord of the Rings.
''I came here 13 years ago,'' Mr Brophy said. ''To come here now and see it again is just great. This is J.R.R. Tolkien's iconic work and we are in Peter Jackson's hands and no else does it better.''
Mr Key, who opened the pub in typical kiwi make do style with a pair of bolt cutters, made a charismatic speech which wowed the overseas media.
He said viewers of the film could be forgiven for thinking the New Zealand vistas seen in the movie was not real because it looks so magical.
''And then you come out here,'' he said.
While food production was still New Zealand's biggest earner a tenth of the workforce was involved in tourism, he said.
He also praised Warner Brothers.
''There is a lot of good will in there. Everything they have promised us they have delivered and more, as has Peter Jackson.''
Basil Young, a cameraman on Canadian CTV's Toronto based eTalk show, was full of praise for the film set and New Zealand as a whole.
''It really is a beautiful country, it's just eye candy everywhere you look.''
How excited are you about the 2014 Commonwealth Games?Related story: After the hype, time to let the Games begin