Note:A photo gallery follows the text and videos, click for larger versions.
The mill at Hobbiton Movie Set
NEW ZEALAND — During the world premiere of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” New Zealand wisely took the opportunity to show journalists from around the world (and Australia) a lot of the amazing things its island nation has to offer. TheOneRing.net was part of one of the tours and rather than regurgitate all the footage, photos and writing we gathered at once, exactly when all the other journalism outlets of the world did, we thought it would be great to disperse it and share it over the course of 2013 in the lead up to “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”
After all, Tourism New Zealand’s motto is “New Zealand is Middle-earth” and this is true in so many ways and for much longer than just the weeks after the debut of the film. For example, above is the video made for TORn by fellow filmmaker Dan McBride who shot and edited the video tour you probably have already watched. We, and a gaggle of other media, toured the Hobbiton Movie Set and witnessed Prime Minister John Key open the new Green Dragon building accompanied by a bunch of actors who reminded us a whole lot of a company of Dwarves. (Incidentally, we had just talked to him the day before so when he showed up again, we wondered why we were being followed and what we had done wrong.)
The video speaks for itself but this remarkable property is, as far as I know, unique in all the world for its ability to transport visitors inside a book, or a movie for that matter. Being there doesn’t feel like walking on a set, rather it feels like immersion. It looks, smells, sounds and feels like one imagines Hobbiton would if you could take a magic wardrobe to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. The Hobbit holes scattered about are, more or less, as they were for filming of “The Hobbit,” movies. It seems safe to assume we will see more of The Shire in subsequent movies and in the Extended Edition on home video before the end of the year.
At the Green Dragon
Meanwhile, not far from Auckland, sits this unique and amazing tourism experience. The still functioning sheep and cattle farm where the now-permanent movie set is placed, is owned by the Alexander family, as it was when discovered for “The Lord of the Rings,” films. Their television rugby match interrupted by strangers led to parts of the family farm being among the most beloved locations in fantasy film and literature. Now visitors take tours daily, either by booking directly through the farm or through travel agents, tours or cruise ships. There are several options available, including overnight farm stays, private tours and lunch options. Matamata, as authentic a small New Zealand town as you will find, serves as a gateway to the farm, offering transportation daily and had just opened a visitor’s center when we visited.
Hamilton is also near with more accommodations and an airport. Not far from Auckland, 160 kilometers in fact, visitors can easily manage the two hour car ride. It goes without saying that driving through the countryside is spectacular as well. My dream would be to meet with TheOneRing.net staff and friends in The Green Dragon, which can be reserved for private functions. They serve food and drink and I just bet you can guess what size the ale comes in. Weddings have and will happen here. The atmosphere and the finish on the place are just as good as you hope they are. In truth, for movies fans and Tolkien fans, the entire movie set experience is simply magic.
Waitomo Caves Black Water Rafting
Some tourists will hop off the cruise ship or land in Auckland and make the farm their only stop in the region and in my opinion if you made it all the way to New Zealand and don’t see more of the region you are doing it all wrong. The tour also provided us the opportunity to visit the world famous Waitomo caves. They contain the exceptionally cool glow worms and there are different ways to experience it all, including the black water rafting experience that I couldn’t resist. Hamilton serves as a good gateway to both spots and neither is to be missed. In the gallery below I will drop in a few Waitomo photos but it is an entirely different story to be told and if there is any need to explain the importance of caves to Middle-earth, you might be at the wrong website.
The region is full of food and drink, excellent accommodations and plenty more worth-while excursions. We will tackle them all in a future story. But add the farm visit and Waitomo Caves to your bucket lists. They really are wold-class destinations not to be missed but especially not by Tolkienites.
While you are here, please enjoy other videos from the premiere. First, actors talking about rings:
And Red Carpet highlights.
A map of the New Zealand region with Auckland and Matamata.
A detailed map of where The Hobbit Move Set is located near Matamata.
The door of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.
Seems like a good place for a party
An average human male (Dan McBride) stands in front of a small Hobbit door.
The mill at Hobbiton Movie Set
Water at Hobbiton Movie set
They may not like boats but Hobbits have docks.
The visitor’s center in Matamata, New Zealand.
Flower at Hobbiton Movie Set
Actors look on at the opening ceremony of the Green Dragon
Still water, a view of Hobbiton Movie Set
For scale, an average sized adult (MrCere) at a Hobbit door.
A Hobbit window at Hobbiton Movie Set
Flowers and door at Hobbiton Movie Set
The interior of the Green Dragon
At the Green Dragon
By the lake and the mill sits the Green Dragon
The exterior of the Green Dragon
The bar at The Green Dragon
Detail of the carved green dragon in the Green Dragon
Floor plan on the wall of the Green Dragon of the Green Dragon.
Inside the Green Dragon
Door and menu at the Green Dragon
At the Green Dragon
Interior of the Green Dragon
Waitomo Caves black water rafting with glow worms.
The final of the six statues that Weta Workshop had displayed at Comic-Con 2012 has arrived to many of our collections. If you recall the six statues at Comic-Con to start the The Hobbit statue line were; Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo Baggins, Balin, Dwalin, Thorin Oakenshiled, and of course Bombur. Bombur is also the first statue in the line to have an edition size set from the start.
Bombur is the brother of Bofur and is also the cousin to Bifur who are both members of the party whose goal is to reclaim The Lonely Mountain from the Dragon Smaug. Bombur is a rather large Dwarf and as the traveling party makes their journey this will present challenges. However, we will also see that you can’t judge a book by its cover with Bombur.
The overall graphic layout for Bombur’s box stays the same as we’ve seen with previous entries in the line. Per the format we’ve come to know the front of the box gives you a great shot of Bombur, graphic work for the title of the movie, and of course the Weta logo. The sides of the box for Bombur also present a familiar format with different looks at the statue. While the other side of the box presents some of the various products you can get for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey line of collectibles. The back of the box contains a great story on Bombur as well as information regarding details of the character and statue. The Styrofoam on the inside is typical with what we’ve come used to getting with these statues.
Greg Tozer is at it again but this time he had some help from fellow sculptor Scott Spencer with their combined efforts making a great statue. Bombur is another case of the statue looking spot on to the actor and the character we saw on screen. One of the things I think that might have been a challenge for sculpting Bombur was the long U shaped beard making sure it looked like real hair, and it was done really well in coming out looking just like that.
The outfit is probably the simplest of all the Dwarves so far but it done equally as good as those Dwarves. Unlike the previous Dwarves Bombur’s outfit is cloth based with only his boots being leather. The job making the outfit look like cloth was done successfully. So much so that Bombur looks very much like a pauper, which is fitting considering the Dwarves of Erebor situation following Smaug’s attack. Bombur was the cook of the group and as we saw in the movie really had no weapons with the exception of his cooking gear. So for this statue you get Bombur running away from what I imagine is the Goblins of Goblin Town with his giant ladle. There is a sequence where you see him running holding this so that is where I draw my inspiration from as to the sequence of events for this piece.
A fun note for anyone who wonders how poses are created or who might help create them. If you post or lurk on the forum The Shadow and Flame you know the username WetaBloke. Well, he was the inspiration in being asked to run the parking lot of the Weta Cave and then turned into the satue we have in our collections.
Bombur continues the streak of very well painted statues from Weta Workshop. The skin tones use the proper paint mixture to not only make the statue look like a shrunken Dwarf. Making the outfit look like worn cloth must have been a challenge for the paint department but it was a challenge they met to the high standards we have as collectors. Bombur very much comes out looking like someone who has the proper skin tone you saw on screen and the worn outfit of someone who has lived a hard life since leaving Erebor. The ladle that Bombur carries looks fantastic as well and very much matches the prop on screen.
Bombur retails for $249, which is in line with most of the statues so far in the line. I will say that while I’m not a giant fan of the character I love the statue and find it to be another hit for Weta. He looks great and helps create a really great looking Hobbit display. I want to add that with every release in this line Weta is just continuing to show how great they with these statues.
Bombur is the first limited edition statue of the line (minus the Comic-Con Exclusive Thorin). His edition size is just 1000 pieces and for now he is in-stock ready for purchase.
9.3″ x 9.1″ x 5.9″ (H x W x D)
23.5 cm x 23 cm x 15 cm
There’s not a huge amount of detail in this short piece about Stephen Hunter’s impending visit to Australia’s Gold Coast for the Supanova Pop Culture Expo, but maybe you didn’t know that he actually auditioned very early on for The Lord of the Rings? (more…)
Australian Hobbit fans will finally get a little bit of love in April. A team from Weta, and several folks from the cast of The Hobbit are making the trip across the Tasman to make an appearance at the Supanova Pop Culture Expo in Melbourne and on the Gold Coast, joining Karl Urban (Eomer) and Supanova MC Mark Ferguson (Gil-galad).
Supanova attendees will get the chance to see and listen to:
Graham McTavish – Dwalin. Graham McTavish (born in 1961) is a Scottish actor who has played an impressive array of characters in a slew of Pop cultural franchises. He played the character Warden Ackerman in Red Dwarf in five episodes of series 8. McTavish has also had many supporting roles in British dramas and films such as Casualty, Jekyll, The Bill, Taggart and Sisterhood. Recently, McTavish appeared in the 2011 film The Wicker Tree, Robin Hardy’s sequel to his 1973 film, The Wicker Man. He has had an “Unexpected Journey” to International stardom playing Dwalin (Brother of Balin) the Dwarf in Sir Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit films.
Stephen Hunter – Bombur. Stephen is a New Zealand actor and voice over artist, currently based in Sydney, Australia. His film and Television career started with Ladies Night in 1995 and has continued to include stints on All Saints, Love My Way, Spirited and Rescue: Special Ops. It was announced in 2011 that Stephen was to play the role of Bombur: brother of Bofur and one of the company of 13 dwarves who retake the Lonely Mountain in Sir Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy. He has since filmed Field Punishment No.1 in the Role of Aussie Bill which will be released in 2013.
Dean O’Gorman – Fili. Dean O’Gorman is a photographer and artist based in New Zealand. He got his start in the television movie, The Rogue Stallion at the age of fourteen, and Raider of the South Seas, both of which were released in 1990. He then won the role of Nurse Harry Martin in the New Zealand soap opera, Shortland Street and has appeared in both Hercules and Xena multiple times. In April 2011 he was cast as Fili the Dwarf in Sir Peter Jackson’s three-part film adaptation of The Hobbit. Kili and his Brother Fili are the youngest dwarves of the 13 and are Thorin Oakenshield’s nephews!
Sylvester McCoy – Radagast (as a Gold Coast exclusive guest). McCoy was starring at the National Theatre in “The Pied Piper”, a musical play written especially for him, when he learned that the BBC was looking for a new lead actor to replace Colin Baker in “Doctor Who” (1963). He later won the role as the seventh Doctor. Following “Doctor Who,” McCoy continues to work extensively in theatre, radio, opera, television and films. McCoy can be seen in the latest blockbuster film The Hobbit (as Radagast the Brown) and can still be heard playing the Doctor in the Big Finish audio productions of Doctor Who.
The dates for Supanova are:
Melbourne – April 12-14 at Melbourne Showgrounds
Gold Coast – April 19-21 at Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
Welcome to our collection of TORn’s hottest topics for the past week. If you’ve fallen behind on what’s happening on the Message Boards, here’s a great way to catch the highlights. Or if you’re new to TORn and want to enjoy some great conversations, just follow the links to some of our most popular discussions. Watch this space as every weekend we will spotlight the most popular buzz on TORn’s Message Boards. Everyone is welcome, so come on in and join in the fun!
One Ring to rule them all. Nine for the Dwarf Lords. Fifteen for the actors who were the principal cast of three Hobbit movies. Just after the world premiere of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” TheOneRing.net had a chance to talk to some of the actors playing key roles in Peter Jackson’s latest Middle-earth film trilogy at the Hobbiton Movie Set near Matamata, New Zealand. We also took extensive pictures of the amazing setting and have lots more video to share down the road, but the clip below focuses on how the actors commemorated the bond they formed while filming extensively in New Zealand. (Let us know if you want to see more videos!)
greendragon with actor John Bell, who plays Bain in The Hobbit movies
On 12th December staffer greendragon was lucky enough to attend the red (well, actually it was green!) carpet in Leicester Square, London, for the Royal Film Performance of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Many of the film’s stars – and other celebs who were there to see the movie – stopped by to say hi, and were delighted to see TheOneRing.net (‘our special friends,’ as Peter Hambleton said) represented there. This is because YOU, our readers, are all so fabulous – everyone involved with the films knows that the best fans are the ones who visit TORn. ;) So here, as a little festive mathom offered to you all from us, the staffers at TORn, is a video of some greetings (and some ‘woohoos’!) to you all, from the folks who work in Middle-earth.
After a little footage of the set up in Leicester Square to set the scene, you’ll see John Bell (Bain) and his parents, Graham McTavish (Dwalin), James Nesbitt (Bofur), William Kircher (Bifur) and his beautiful wife Nicole, artist Alan Lee, Stephen Hunter (Bombur), Peter Hambleton (Gloin), Jed Brophy (Nori), Adam Brown (Ori), and of course Dominic Monaghan (Merry) and Billy Boyd (Pippin)- who were there to see the movie and revisit old haunts! Enjoy! Wishing you all happy holidays!
IGN.com has a great video interview with the dwarven cast of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘ that is well worth 8 minutes of your time today. Watch the company squibble and squirm as they try to answer a variety of Tolkien trivia. In-between the humorous answers, you’ll see some great clips from the film. (Who knew Galadriel was the name of Gandalf’s sword? ) Enjoy! [Video]
With the public screenings now on in New Zealand and England and a day away in the U.S. and Canada, it seems a good time to continue to celebrate Hobbit Week and share some of the footage we gathered on the red carpet in Wellington, New Zealand. And this time instead of speaking to the media in general, they are speaking directly to you, the community that makes up TheOneRing.net. We have saved this footage for just the right time but here in the states it feels like ‘Hobbit Eve’ and there hasn’t been a lull in the media for weeks so it is now or never! Hope you enjoy some short visits and appearances by Adam Brown, Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, James Cameron, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Martin Freeman, Peter Hambleton, Richard Armitage, Stephen Hunter and William Kircher. Enjoy!
With the help of a group of Dwarves and New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Keys, the Green Dragon officially opened for business Thursday. Located on the Hobbiton Movie Set near small-town Matamata, New Zealand, visitors can now have some ale as part of their visiting to the fully immersive movie immersion.
Press from around the globe were on hand for a full day showcase of what the site has to offer as they dispersed from the World Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in Wellington, New Zealand the previous day.
Keys cut the chains on the door as the Alexander family, who owns the sheep farm the set is built on, welcomed him and the new addition to the set tour with the help of the actors who played dwarves in the latest Middle-earth film. Dean O’Gorman, Aiden Turner, Adam Brown, James Nesbit, John Callen, Stephen Hunter, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, William Kircher, Peter Hambleton and Graham McTavish were all on hand for photos at the door and media interviews around the Hobbiton setting. Royd Tolkien was also in attendance along with key figures from the farm and New Zealand tourism.
Visitors were then treated to New Zealand’s finest wines, tasty snacks and cheeses and of course, ale. Several of the dwarves wore matching rings and revealed that just as the original Fellowship of actors in the LOTR movies all were tattooed together, this group, including lead Martin Freeman all share these specially crafted rings.
Hadlow summed it up, calling the rings a symbol of the actor’s brotherhood.
Please enjoy a few pictures from the event and from the Red Carpet the previous day.
Note: Correspondent Larry D. Curtis is in New Zealand but is having computer failures. Expect much more content in the days to come.
Discussion board member Ataahua comes through for us again with a cool online feature from the New Zealand Herald where you can see just how much The Hobbit actors have been transformed for their roles by makeup and prosthetics. Just drag the slider across each photo to see the actor transform into the character. Check it out and have fun! Read More…
Warner Bros. has revealed another great scroll-like Hobbit poster on their site. Similar to the movie poster revealed recently, the newest poster concentrates mainly on the dwarves, with a little Bilbo and Gandalf thrown in. This helps further establish personalities and, with this particular scroll, names for each of the dwarves, helping fans familiarize themselves with all thirteen prior to seeing the movie. Do you have a favorite already? More than one? Let us know: Barliman’s chat; Hobbit Movie Discussion; TORn facebook, TORn Twitter. Read more…
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