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Air New Zealand Paints Giant Dragon on a Plane to Promote New Hobbit Movie

Dec 02, 2013 10:00 am

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The Hobbit films have boosted tourism to New Zealand and ridership on the country’s national carrier. This is a partnership that will continue long after the films leave the theatre.

— Samantha Shankman

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Air New Zealand  / Facebook

Air New Zealand unveils an image of a dragon painted on a plane in honor of the newest Hobbit movie. Air New Zealand / Facebook

New Zealand’s national carrier has unveiled a giant image of Smaug the dragon on its plane to celebrate the premiere of the second film in The Hobbit trilogy.

The 54-metre-high giant dragon logo is sprawled across both sides of the Boeing 777-300 which is scheduled to fly to Los Angeles for today’s premiere of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug“.

It was the first time Hobbit film fans got a full view of the dragon, whose eye was revealed in the first film. The airline plans to keep the image on the plane until the opening of the third film of The Hobbit trilogy, according to the Air New Zealand spokesman Andrew Aitken.

Last year, the airline invited passengers to take a ‘journey into Middle Earth’ on board two hobbit-themed aircraft to promote the release of the first film “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”.

The aircraft featured a special Hobbit-themed in-flight safety video, enlisting the help of hobbits, orcs and elves to urge passengers to fasten their seatbelts, and a digital Gollum pointing out airplane safety lights. The video also includes appearances by Mike and Royd Tolkien, great-grandsons of “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” author JRR Tolkien, as well as from The Hobbit film series director Peter Jackson.

New Zealand has also created the “world’s largest pop-up book”, showcasing four main filming locations from the second movie on four giant film sets, to coincide with the premiere of the second film. Standing 50 feet high and spanning the space of two tennis courts, the book is set on the grounds of the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles.

Visitors can step into the sets for a closer look at various original props from the movie and features of the real Middle-earth landscapes of New Zealand. Access to the book is reserved for a series of invitation-only events but a selection of lucky Hobbit fans will have the chance to see it as a part of a special tour this Wednesday.

The Hobbit films, which were shot in New Zealand, have helped boost tourism in the country in the last year, including a 10 per cent rise in international holidays to the country in the first four months of this year, according to figures released by Tourism New Zealand earlier this summer.

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