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Destinations Australia, NZ & South Pacific

What’s the Hobbit worth to New Zealand? Assessing the high costs of Hollywood ambitions

Excerpt from New York Times

Nov 24, 2012 8:36 am

Skift Take

New Zealand owes a great deal of its modern tourism industry to the films of Peter Jackson, but how far should they really go to both fund film and hitch their wagon to Hollywood dreams?

— Jason Clampet

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Ross Younger  / Flickr.com

A statue of the Gollum character at Wellington's airport. Ross Younger / Flickr.com


… For better or worse, Mr. Key’s government has taken extreme measures that have linked its fortunes to some of Hollywood’s biggest pictures, making this country of 4.4 million people, slightly more than the city of Los Angeles, a grand experiment in the fusion of film and government.

That union has been on enthusiastic display here in recent weeks as “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first of three related movies by the director Peter Jackson, approached its world premiere on Wednesday in Wellington (and on Dec. 14 in the United States). Anticipation in New Zealand has been building, and there are signs everywhere of the film’s integration into Kiwi life — from the giant replica of the movie’s Gollum creature suspended over the waiting area at Wellington Airport to the gift shops that are expanding to meet anticipated demand for Hobbit merchandise (elf ears, $14).

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