For readers who don’t know, the shooting set for exteriors of the Shire in Hobbit trilogy is preserved for visitors on the farm where it was originally used for the “Lord of the Rings,” films. It provides a fully immersive environment that fans worldwide agree is singularly special and it runs tours daily.
So besIt also didn’t hurt that actors Jed Brophy, John Callen, Mark Hadlow and Stephen Hunter surprised visitors at a feast inside the full-service eatery on site: The Green Dragon. Nor did the flowing drink, the plentiful food, the expertly guided tours, but what else can be done to delight 150 of the most die-hard fans in the world?
Have Peter Jackson, by way of recorded video, introduce the just-finished, and last, trailer for “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” It brought the house down.
In the very Hobbity party tent behind The Green Dragon all the gathered fans and media were clearly and repeatedly instructed to turn off our cameras so it was obvious something different was happening. Even the most honored guests, the actors were placed in the front but looking forward with the audience.
Matthew Dravitzki, an Associate Producer on the trilogy and a key figure behind Jackson’s team who usually escapes the spotlight, spoke to the fans and introduced the video. He also required that we viewers not share the details, especially the specifics, so you will not read them here. But I think its okay if I say, it’s serious as a heart attack, gloomy as a storm front and as epic as battle of five armies.
And wow, do my fingers itch to type more.
Afterwards the groups of fans, split up for logistical purposes and took the new (to me) night tour around the set. Under the party tree the groups gathered to finally end a pretty amazing day. In fact, it may be difficult to match during the rest of the trip. To say fans were ecstatic is no exaggeration. There were, at several points, tears of joy and disbelief.
The day started in the rain at the Skyline Rotorua. Fans and reporters were generously offered the opportunity to enjoy various activities that included wine tasting, a zip line, a luge and a skyswing. Then it was off to the movie set for a day that was absolutely packed.
TORn interviewed the four actors together in a group with hilarious results. We will post it at a later date, depending on how quickly we get the video and quickly I can possibly post it but it’s great fan service from four classy New Zealand gentlemen.
The owner of the sheep and cattle farm the set sits on and his son who run it, Ian and Russel Alaexander, were on hand for interviews as well. TORn didn’t catch up with them, but plenty of media outlets did. In the late afternoon, in the guise of introducing The Green Dragon, fans were led into the room where the actors and executives were enjoying dinner and where media was stationed to grab reactions. As anticipated, tears where shed, hugs were shared and memories were made. Staff working on the event expressed a lot of tender emotions while watching fans enjoy the surprise so much.
I was pleased to have time to mix and mingle with fans — and I met a lot of them and enjoyed it every time. Before long it was trailer time. Despite this group’s appointment this week to screen the actual film with director Peter Jackson, the trailer announcement was greeted with great excitement.
Dravitzki promised a triple showing and delivered. All three times fans hushed each other at the start, not wanting to miss any dialog.
Then it was outdoors for the night tour when fireworks were triggered. Then, off to buses and tomorrow, Queenstown.