The incredible 'Fantasy Film' section in WETA's 'Unleashed'
This is the Fantasy film section. Photo by Jason Dorday/Stuff

On December 15, 2020, WETA Workshop opened up Unleashed, a hybrid entertainment experience in Auckland that is part film set and part creative workshop. This project started as an idea about 3 years ago, but it was 18 months ago when they landed on the concept that would become Unleashed – A Fantastical Film FX Experience. WETA took over an entire floor at the SkyCity entertainment precinct in Auckland, at the foot of the Sky Tower. This finally gives WETA the space to grow and flesh out what they began with the WETA Cave and the Window on the Workshop experience they have in Wellington. 

The Health and Safety officer named Jeff, who greets visitors to the attraction - an otherworldly looking character.
Jeff, Health and Safety officer Photo by Sylvie Whinray

Upon entering, guests are greeted by Jeff, head of security and health and safety; who happens to be an animatronic character, voiced by Mark Hadlow, with 40 points of articulation. Guests will go on a 90-minute immersive journey, through several rooms that aren’t always what they appear to be. Jeff will get you started on your adventure to learn about the creation of three original films in the Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction genres. Each room will offer hands-on, interactive activities, such as sculpting, making armor, or tracing creatures. The concept is to show the creative process involved in filmmaking from the beginning through the final stages before release, and leave the guests inspired to take that creativity home with them.

Some sculpture work on display
Photo by Jason Dorday/Stuff

In addition to being a fun day tour experience for movie fans and tourists, this facility is big enough to be an event venue, a themed event venue at that: from small groups of 15 or more for things like Birthday or Anniversary parties, all the way up to large corporate or professional groups. There is room for receptions up to 700 people, or banquets of 300. And to add atmosphere, you can include an SFX make-up demo, hands-on workshops, guest speakers, and Middle-earth themed feasts. Makes one wonder if they will have space for some 20th anniversary partying next December…?

For details on where to find WETA Workshop Unleashed and all of their various tours and venue options, simply head over to WETA Workshop Unleashed

An incredible display at WETA Workshop Unleashed
Photo by Jason Dorday/Stuff

When our friends from within the Tolkien Community heard we’re having a special birthday they sent us these lovely messages as part of our celebrations. So Happy 20th Anniversary TORn! Here’s to many many more!

Kia Ora TORn,

Happy 20th Anniversary, well done on making this wonderful achievement! We have been involved with TORn through one of your founding members Erica Challis, from New Zealand since 2002. We have enjoyed the fantastic Premier movie parties that Red Carpet Tours has provided and TORn attended, along with the stars from the films. Looking forward to future calibrations and hopefully a great Lotr TV series for all the fans. Congratulations again on 20 years! Best regards, Julie James and the team at Red Carpet Tours.

Happy 20th Birthday to TheOneRing.net from The Brisbane Tolkien Fellowship. We hope you continue to have another successful 20 years at least sharing the news of all things Middle-earth.

TORn 20th Anniversary Message from Gamling, Bruce Hopkins

Dear Friends at TheOneRing,


Congratulations on reaching the ripe old age of 20  ; ) Thank you for all the support and love you’ve given us all.


When I took the job of playing Ori in The Hobbit, I didn’t think I’d collect so many chums. Like the cast, you too are part of my extended dysfunctional Tolkien family!


Have a great celebration – drink, be merry… and avoid the green food!
See you all soon. Adam x

A big happy 20th anniversary to TheOneRing.net ! All this time you have been delivering to us critical and wonderful news regarding the world of JRR Tolkien, from the books to the films to the Collectibles and everything in between. May 20 more years be forthcoming!

Cheers, Jerry Vanderstelt

Our good friend Donato Giancola also has given us a mathom to offer to you all! For the next ten days, you can get 50% (!!) off on all of Donato’s incredible art prints. Just use the coupon code TORN at checkout. Take a look at the wonderful prints on sale, here. Thanks so much, Donato!

I can’t believe it’s been 20 years already – it’s been an amazing 
community to have been a part of, and all good wishes to everyone 
involved, from everyone at Welly-moot!

Jack Machiela
Welly-moot.com

We will be adding more messages to this post as and when we receive them, so do check back! Thanks to everyone who has sent greetings and anniversary messages!

gandalf-nzAs part of the celebrations of the fifteenth anniversary of the release of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Tourism New Zealand has launched a new way to explore the country that has become, for many, the ‘real’ Middle-earth.  They tell us:

‘To celebrate New Zealand being the real Middle-earth for 15 years (since the first Lord of the Rings film) we have come up with a new way to take you on an adventure.

Imagine if you travelled the real Middle-earth like a Hobbit – what journey would you take? What if you were an Elf? A Dwarf? A Wizard? ‘Middle-earth travel’ aligns the characters to the NZ experiences they would do, on their New Zealand holiday.

Consumers will take a quiz to discover what character they are, and will receive a personalised message from Peter Jackson saying:

  • What character they are
  • Providing them with a customised itinerary through NZ
  • Providing them with a shareable video of ‘What to pack’ for their journey to Middle-earth’

 

You can take the quiz on Tourism New Zealand’s Facebook page, 100% Pure New Zealand; or you can find it on their website, here.

They also shared with us two fun articles: 15 Middle-earth stars profess their love for New Zealand and How to travel like a hobbit in New Zealand.

Many airline companies have sales on around this time of year, so if you’re inspired, maybe 2017 will be the year you make your own Unexpected Journey to Middle-earth? Or at least we can all enjoy pictures from 100% Pure New Zealand, whilst we dream of such a voyage…!

 

HobbitonFor those of you who have been lucky enough to visit the Hobbiton set (like me!), you know how magical it is to wander among the well-tended gardens and Hobbit-home facades, to rest in the shade of the magnificent party tree, and to enjoy a pint at the Green Dragon Inn. However, as most of us are aware, the Hobbiton set is surrounded by a 560 hectare (approximately 1,400 acre) working sheep and cattle farm owned and operated by the Alexander family.

Stuff.co.nz recently recounted a bit of the history of the Hobbiton and how Hobbit holes and sheep continue to coexist nicely in a quiet corner of the New Zealand countryside:

“Right alongside the tourism business is their sheep and beef operation, on probably the country’s most-visited farm. While not many of the tourists see the whole farm, the stock is still very much in the public eye, meaning Craig [Alexander] has to be strategic in where he farms stock because of the occasional gate left open by an unsuspecting tourist. Hobbiton is also ring-fenced with paddocks for stock on either side. “If we’re driving a mob of 1500-2000 ewes down the main track and there is a [tourist] bus going through that can be pretty frustrating.”

While the farm is family-owned and operated, Hobbiton is a 50/50 partnership between the family and Peter Jackson. “Today, the tourism venture has about 70 permanent staff and twice that number over the busy summer season. It’s given the Matamata district a huge boost in earnings and the region is now thriving.”

Read the full article here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe at TheOneRing.net want you all to join us in saying a proper ‘Fond Farewell’ and heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to all the hard working Cast and Crew of all six of the Middle-earth films. There will be a giant ‘Thank You’ card at our planned “The One Last party: There and Back Again” event on February 21, 2015 in Hollywood. We’ve done this before, back at the Return of the One Party in 2004, so we know how to do big cards.

Now we know that not everyone can join us at ‘The One Last Party” so we have a special Perk on our Indiegogo campaign just for you. In fact, every single Perk level includes your name on the card, but we did create the lowest level Perk just for those who can’t attend, but would like to be included in this special ‘one of a kind’ Thank you greeting. The images here are from 2004, but they give you an idea of what to expect from this year’s Epic card. And for those who do attend the party, you will have the opportunity to personalize your greeting a little bit more at the party. This ‘Thank You’ card will either be given to, or sent down to New Zealand to be delivered to Peter Jackson.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

For the past decade and a half, Peter Jackson, his amazing cast and the equally amazing crew have handcrafted these magnificent cinematic representations of Middle-earth for all of us to enjoy. Along the way, we have created a vibrant fan community where we can be found chatting on the message boards, meeting up at theater Line Parties, attending conventions together, making pilgrimages to New Zealand, and attending Oscar parties. We are a very social fandom who celebrates both the creative and academic side of Middle-earth, where you can find people displaying amazing costume designs right next to people who can recite and translate all of Tolkien’s Elvish poetry, and each can call the other ‘friend’. So while we want to thank Peter and the rest of the cast and crew for making films we can all enjoy, we especially want to thank them for the much more important Fan Community that has been thriving in big cities and tiny little towns all around the world since 2001.

Please join us in sending out our thanks by supporting our campaign for The One Last Party: There and Back Again, or sharing it far and wide with all your friends and family. Let’s all enjoy each other’s company #OneLastTime.

_________________________________________________

 

Join us in Los Angeles in February at The One Last Party

one last party logo We’re hosting a Party of Special Magnificence next February — a toast to all SIX movies, both LOTR trilogy and The Hobbit.

Visit our Indiegogo campaign page to grab your tickets and help make it happen — so we can all celebrate Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth movies together!