LOS ANGELES — The contest has ended for the winners to be the ultimate Hobbit fans and watch the in-progress “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” film with Peter Jackson. That happened Thursday in Wellington and by Friday fans were traveling home, slowly spreading out away from Middle-earth and back to the four corners of the globe. Friendship ran deep among the group and the late night Auckland to Los Angeles flight still contained a decent share of the group that saw New Zealand in a whirlwind. The plane was also the famed Smaug-decorated jet and that surely seemed appropriate.
Jackson is back to work on the film, fans are spreading back around the globe, going home after an unforgettable week. TORn has been very busy collecting photos and experiences and will get a big report and maybe some other stories out this weekend. For the rest, three weeks remain until the the world premiere in London. Three weeks for Jackson and his editing team to make final decisions about the film. Three weeks for hundreds or likely thousands of hands at Weta Digital to finish hundreds of shots. Three weeks for Warner Bros. to ramp up its publicity machine and three weeks for actors to get ready to promote the film at red carpets and premieres on several continents.
The ultimate fan contest to bring hardcore fans together to see the final film in Middle-earth was a massive undertaking for Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand and Warners. While not every single detail was perfect, there is little doubt for those who went, the week was the trip of a lifetime. Besides the screening there was an incredible day at the Hobbiton Movie Set, the cultural welcome at Rotorua, all kinds of adventures in Queenstown and then a dash through Wellington with glimpses into Weta Workship, Weta Digital and the rarest of movie experiences with Jackson and company.