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 creative forces behind television’s “The Amazing Race” wants to put Tolkienites, including TheOneRing.net readers, in a competition based reality show with a fantasy flair. TheOneRing.net spoke with casting director Paul Gordon about the new series that is coming to a major television network this year. Expect an announcement and promotion soon.
“There is a potential for people to live out their dreams and we want to give them a platform,” Gordon said.
The concept of the show, called “The Quest,” is to put fans of genre entertainment in a competitive environment tailored to highlight participants’ love of fantasy and adventure.
“It is cool, it is “The Amazing Race” in Middle-earth.”
A “Lord of the Rings,” Executive Producer is also on board. The project has been on the drawing board for a while, but now all the pieces are together – except finding the cast.
“We don’t do profile shows – this is not ‘Jersey Shore.’ This is not ‘Honey Boo Boo.’ The drama here is not, ‘That B!#@% stole my milk!’ There is no contrived drama, we don’t need it.”
Instead, the show wants to find people willing dive in fully and accept the quest to be a hero.
“We want people who are willing to go there with us. We want people who love this stuff. We are definitely looking for personalities – competitive people – not people sitting in a house. You are competing. Where it is LARP or D&D or baseball or basketball, you are going to get revved up.”
TORn tried to find a lead on age or interest or demographic or type that would help land roles but Gordon insisted that on a big network, they were casting a wide net, looking for personality and especially one character trait: “We love people who are competitive – we want this to be important, we want to see them go for it. They might be quiet competitive, might be sneaky competitive, there are many different ways to be competitive.”
He also tried to stress that there are television shows around that poke fun at those invested in niche entertainment and that is not this show.
“Big networks go after everybody (for their audience) and we also look at it as a teaching show. People look at things like DragonCon as unusual – we want people to understand why people do this.
“People laugh at this and say that is not our thing and a lot of what we like to do is teach people.”
“It is so similar, it is shocking to me. It is more familiar than you realize. There are whole sections at Eagles games – people go there and pretend they are something else and think they affect this thing. If they only knew how similar they are!”
Those wishing to enter the selection process can do so by email or by showing up in select cities at early-season conventions to meet with the Emmy winning folks behind the camera. Anybody able to show up in person at the following events, he promised, will be considered.”If you show up to an event, we will look at every single person. ”
The production will be looking in the following cities:
Seattle (coinciding with EMP Fantasy Exhibit Opening) – April 25
Chicago- C2E2 – April 27
Texas – Dallas Comic Con – May 18th
Phoenix – Comic Con - May 25
New York - No event planned yet, will hold VIP invite event for those in the area who apply
Philadelphia – Wizard Con – May 1
This Thursday Gordon will be in Seattle to meet potential candidates, mail TheQuestCasting@gmail.com with the subject RSVP Seattle. They want your name, age, location, a photo, your interest and why you would be perfect for the show.
But anybody in fandom can send in an application to TheQuestCasting@gmail.com, Seattle or no. Include in that email: Your name:
Your hobby/fascination: (Tolkien, Game of Thrones, LARPing, Cosplay) What makes you perfect for a show like this:
If they like what they see, they can schedule an interview or, worst case, they will Skype with candidates.
“We have 13 Emmy’s, nine with Amazing Race. No one (in reality shows) can say that. We are doing award-winning stuff and we never do a show that is fake.”
Profiles Television is behind the show.
So where will all this happen?
“I can’t tell you,” Gordon said, “But it is pretty freaking cool.”
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!
Recently announced with via their Facebook page Asmus Toys has announced they have a license to create 1:6th action figures from The Lord of the Rings. They announce sometime in 2013 we will start to see what they have to offer fans of Middle-earth and in their own words it will cover good, evil, Fellowship, Helm’s Deep, and much more. As they announce more news we will make sure to let you all know.
Our friends at United Cutlery have two brand new items that are now available to order through BUDK. The first item is the Helm of Sauron. This replica is created out of polystone then finished to match the prop we saw on screen during The Lord of the Rings, and the base that this helm sets on has been created from wood then made to look like the upper torso of Sauron. The helm can also be worn due to the padding on the inside of the replica. This piece will have an edition size of 1500 pieces world wide, comes with a price tag of $350, and will be shipping in July of 2013.
If you’re a fan of Gondor then this next item is for you! During The Battle of the Last Alliance this shield was carried by soldiers of Gondor as they fought Sauron for the fate of Middle-earth. This amazing replica from United Cutlery captures the fantastic design we saw during the prologue sequence of The Fellowship of the Ring. This fantastic item measures 42 1/2″ x 20 1/2 and comes with a awesome Gondorian Banner. You can pre-order this item right now for $250 and it also shipping in July of this year.
Thomas Edison once said that to truly reach your potential, you must consider all ideas before discarding the poor ones and developing the good ones. (Actually, I just made that up. But it’s an internet tradition to attribute your own beliefs to a famous person to give your thoughts validation and respect. By the way, did I mention Tolkien wants you to buy my book?)
From Otago Daily Times: In 1974, the name Aragorn Peak appeared on a Fiordland topographic map published by the Department of Lands and Survey, but by 1980 the mountain had been stripped of the name.
The New Zealand Geographic Board has decided to keep the mountainous area Tolkien-free after declining a proposal to name a nearby peak Tolkien Mountain.
Manapouri man Aaron Nicholson had applied to have an unnamed 1757m peak at the northern end of the Earl Mountains in Fiordland National Park, named Tolkien Mountain but the New Zealand Geographic Board has declined the application.
New Zealand Geographic Board secretary Wendy Shaw said the board’s naming policy had not been met and it was not convinced the peak needed a name.
”The proposal would have had to have provided a strong association between the person being honoured/commemorated, and the area where the feature is located.
The new Gollum in The Hobbit is technologically updated from the LOTR trilogy.
Our own staffer Justin brought this excellent chat between Stuff magazine and Weta Digital’s Joe Letteri to light. Letteri discusses some of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and the challenges of shooting in 3D at 48 fps, but he also has some interesting things to say about Smaug.
Letteri on Smaug: “Really, we could’ve done Smaug in the traditional way – just ask Benedict Cumberbatch to come into a voice booth and record his dialogue, and do everything entirely with keyframe animation. But when we record what Benedict’s body is doing, it frees him up to give us some idea of the physicality and intimate the poses, so that what he’s got on his mind can come through in how he’s performing it – and we’ll take that and extend it into what we do with the dragon.”
Letteri on revisiting Gollum: “I don’t think so – it’s not something that Peter’s ever indicated that he was interested in doing, and for my mind I’m happy to just have the film be finished as a film. We were lucky to be able to come back and do Gollum now with what we know ten years later – we have the best of both worlds, we can do that in new scenes. But even if that hadn’t been the case, I’m inclined to say a film exists in and of its time – and if you want to see something new, go and make a new film.”
You can read the rest of the excellent article right here!
The MTV Movie Awards just announced that Bilbo beat out all the other contenders, including Iron Man, The Hulk, Catwoman, Batman, and Snow White, for the coveted “Best Hero” award. A massive fan effort that spanned continents lead to Bilbo’s victory by a margin of more than 100,000 votes. Using the hashtag #votebilbo, fans cast their votes on Twitter and Instagram and forged a dedicated fellowship committed to showing the world that even the smallest person can change the course of the future.
With more than 1.63 million votes, Bilbo was the clear winner, much to the chagrin of legions of Kristen Stewart and Twilight fans who gave our little hobbit a run for the money. In addition to tweeting, fans created thousands of images that they uploaded to Instagram to share their love for our favorite hero. We’ll have a gallery of some of our favorites online soon.
It’s been a true adventure riding the wild voting rollercoaster, and it’s brought many Ringers together and strengthened our community. From #votebilbo, we’re now united under #BilboTheHero. Click to read about how TORn’s MrCere went from thinking this campaign was “harmless but pretty useless,” to wholeheartedly jumping on board the #votebilbo train as, “A funny thing happened during the process: It became really fun on Twitter to #VoteBilbo!”
Readers will already know about the hashtag war going on out there, from Rasputin the Evil Balrog’s post here and MrCere’s post here. The MTV Movie Awards are this weekend, so we have about twenty-four hours to go, to get as many #votebilbo counts out there as possible. Ringers cannot be beaten! – and here’s proof that, for amazing creativity, that’s certainly true. This brilliant video, created by Speigel Ei, shows that even Bella Swan would be won over by the genius that is Lord of the Rings. #votebilbo today!
TORn staffer Saystine found us another great interview video from Yahoo! Movies UK in which Hobbit cast members Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt, and Andy Serkis discuss how the second film in the trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, will differ from An Unexpected Journey.
“It will get more dangerous and dark as Bilbo gets further away from home and in more jeopardy,” says Andy Serkis, who, in addition to playing Gollum in the films, is Second Unit Director on the trilogy.
Will we enjoy the departure from the more lighthearted nature of Unexpected Journey? Well Richard Armitage will, at least. He says, “Obviously I favor the dark.”
Our TORn community all know he’s the bravest little hobbit of them all, but the world needs to know, too! A few days ago, TORn staffer MrCere posted a call to arms. The MTV Movie Awards are asking the public to choose the Best Hero of 2012 using Twitter or Instagram. Our favorite Hobbit, Bilbo, is running neck and neck with (can you believe this?) Snow White. This cannot stand! We need to mobilize our community to show our support for the Master of Bag End.
Use the link above or choose from one of the #votebilbo messages below and tweet your support now! We’ve provided 20 more automatic tweets below. Just click on the vote link and you will be automatically setting up your next tweet. Tweet early, and tweet often. You can also use #votebilbo to share your vote through your Instagram account. MTV says, “Get creative on Instagram—dress up as your favorite hero, tag a selfie, etc. Any photo with the hashtag is a vote, but only the best will be displayed… during the Movie Awards!”
This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law.