Everything reached its peak this afternoon, as 100,000 people (about a quarter of the Greater Wellington population!) gathered in and around Courtenay Place. Last night, the set up was in full flight, and quickly joining those who stayed out overnight, dedicated fans snapped up the barrier spaces so that by 7:00 am, all those spaces were taken. When I arrived, a little before 3:00 pm, my first impression was one of wry amusement, overtaken quickly by a more generalised “good mood” – so many fans, looking so happy – it’s a nice thing to have seen.
The weather was exceptionally good. I should probably pretend (for those of you who’ve never been here) that it’s always like this, but the truth is, is often isn’t. Kia ora weather, kia ora. The trolls looked lovely, having already been seen at Comic Con in San Diego, and matched the Gollum statue at Wellington Airport and the enormous Gandalf above the Embassy Theatre itself.
The atmosphere was very relaxed, friendly and egalitarian. Hierarchy did not seem quite so important as fairness, and people were often willing to stand aside so everyone could get some pictures. The fans were very diverse – the people around me were from Romania, Germany and elsewhere – and I saw signs showing people hailing from France and Mexico.
Neil Finn performed, he quipped that this song was the reason he got the job. Nevertheless, it was his rendition of the Misty Mountains song (sung by the dwarves in the film) which roused the largest cheer.
After this, the stars started arriving, but I was some 300 metres down the red carpet from them. Instead the next highlight was the flyover of the Air New Zealand 777 (complete with largest decal ever!). It’s in the details!
So, we waited patiently, for our first sight of the films stars. Before they made their way down from the beginning of the carpet, we saw instead some of the guests. Local actors, musicians, politicians, footballers. And then? Peter Jackson himself! Among others, there was Sylvester McCoy (the first Doctor I remember!), Elijah Wood, Martin Freeman, Hugo Weaving. Sadly, there was nothing to be seen of Cate Blanchett, Richard Armitage, or Barry Humphries all of whom I’d have like to see (albeit each for different reasons). Evidently there was more than one path down the carpet, meaning not everyone saw everyone – but that minor quibble aside, it was just with a little bit of excitement I snapped the following pictures
Wellington really knows how to turn it on for these events – and it’s great to leave this kind of impression on the world. Even if Wellington won’t be the Middle of Middle-Earth for much longer, it’s been a lot of fun. New Zealand might well be 100% Pure, but as I have said before, you can’t beat Wellington on a good day.
Photos by PJD, at the World Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He had an unexpectedly good time, and would love to hear from anyone else who was there, or who wanted to be there…