Hobbit costumes, caves and some achingly cool actors on top form were the order of the day as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey premiered in New Zealand. Leading the kooky fun was none other than Elijah Wood, who reprises his legendary role as Frodo Baggins.
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Spurred on by thousands of screaming fans who had turned out in pointy ears and Hobbit costumes, the actor joined in the fun as he made his entrance from a fantasy-inspired cottage on the red carpet. His shades added just the right amount of superstar chic to proceedings.
Clearly delighted to be a part of the first instalment of Peter Jackson's Hobbit Trilogy, the star compared his latest outing to The Lord of the Rings films which have made his name."This is echoing in the past for me," he told reporters.
Joining Elijah in Wellington – which had been dubbed "the Middle of Middle Earth" – was his director Peter Jackson and co-star Cate Blanchett, who had brought her eight-year-old son Roman along for the day. Looking smart in a blazer and jeans, the little boy seemed shy as he cuddled into his famous mum before the huge crowds.
British actor Martin Freeman, who snared the lead role of Bilbo Baggins, said he thought director Peter Jackson had once again weaved his inimitable magic into the film, saying: "He's done it again, if it's possible. It's probably even better than The Lord of the Rings. I think he's surpassed it."
The one thing the iconic film-maker certainly did surpass are traditional movie-making techniques. One of the special things about The Hobbit is the fact that it is shot using 48 frames per second instead of the traditional 24, resulting in razor-sharp picture quality. "I really think 48 frames is pretty terrific and I'm looking forward to seeing the reaction," Peter said on the red carpet. "It's been talked about for so long, but finally the film is being released and people can decide for themselves."
He also added it was strange working on the project so closely and then having to turn it loose to audiences who have seen his wares before. "It spins your head a little bit," he said. "We just have to make the cinema-going experience more magical and more spectacular to get people coming back to the movies again."
The director started making the Oscar-winning series – based on the epic fantasy books of JRR Tolkien – more than 12 years ago. The first film in the Hobbit trilogy is set 60 years before The Lord of the Rings and hits theatres on 14 December.