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LOTR - Wellington

The capital was used as a base of operations for The Lord of the Rings production. Here Peter Jackson and the cast and crew recorded the studio scenes including Edoras and Helm's Deep interiors featured in The Two Towers and performed all the post production work. The city's iconic landmark, Mount Victoria, also provided the backdrop for some key scenes, including those where the hobbits hide from the Black Rider, and later, when they race to catch the ferry with the Rider in hot pursuit. Wellington's Miramer Peninsula served as the outskirts of Bree, and the Prancing Pony and village of Bree were built around army barracks at Fort Dorset, in Seatoun.

During the major filming in 1999-2000, studio scenes for the final film in the trilogy, The Return of the King, also took place in Wellington. Sets built in the 'Middle Earth' studios included part of the battlements for the City of Kings, from which Gandalf inspects the enemy forces as they gather for the last battle; the steps leading to Denethor's lair at Minas Tirith, a corner of the Green Dragon hostelry, and Shelob's lair, where Frodo and Sam encounter the giant spideress who guards the ancient pass to Mordor. These sets of plaster, plywood and polystyrene were dismantled after filming, but details such as doors, windows, carvings and statues have been stored for future display.

Wellington premiered the Australasian premiers of both The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers at the restored Embassy Theatre. The historic Embassy, located in Wellington's Courtenay Place district of trendy restaurants and cafés, was the centre of a huge street party at both premiers. An estimated 10-15,000 revellers turned out for the December 18th premier of The Two Towers - some travelled from as far away as the UK and USA. Red carpet guests in attendance at both premieres were Elijah Wood (Frodo) and his hobbit friends, Billy Boyd (Pippin), Dominic Monaghan (Merry). However, the biggest cheer was reserved for local town hero, and The Lord of the Rings director, Peter Jackson.

This year, Embassy Theatre is preparing to host the world premiere of the final instalment of The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, on 1 December, and the capital is planning its biggest celebration ever.

Jackson, who started his career as the local film maker of quirky and small budget horror movies, managed what many had said was impossible; to bring not only the filming but full post production of a major Hollywood film to New Zealand.

'I feel incredibly proud that this country, and especially this town, is responsible for what we have done.' (Peter Jackson, Souce: The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook, by Ian Brodie).

Jackson teamed with long time friend, Richard Taylor, to create Weta Studios.Weta Workshop, based in Wellington, manufactured all the costumes and props in the films, while Weta Digital undertook almost all of the post production work on the films, including some of the most ambitious special effects ever attempted. Weta's creations form the centrepiece of The Lord of the Rings Exhibition - a major exhibition of the film's magic that is touring internationally, and will be on display at London's Science Museum when the world premiere of The Return of the King takes place in Wellington.


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