Date: 29th November 2012
Tens of thousands of people, even some who camped overnight on the street, turned out in Wellington, New Zealand, to see the stars of the new movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The much-anticipated film directed by Peter Jackson attracted Tolkien fans from around the world to the country's capital where the movie - a prequel to The Lord Of The Rings franchise - was shot.
Under bright sunshine actors including Martin Freeman, who plays the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett and Elijah Wood walked down the city's main street on a 700-metre red carpet - a journey which took a couple of hours as the actors stopped to meet fans and sign autographs.
The Hobbit trilogy is set 60 years before the Rings movies, but Jackson said it had benefited from being made after the conclusion of the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy saga.
"I'm glad that we established the style and the look of Middle-earth by adapting Lord Of The Rings before we did the Hobbit," Jackson said.
He told Sky News he had been working on the movie right up to the last minute, only finishing it days before the premiere.
British actor Andy Serkis, who plays the creature Gollum with a distinctive throaty whisper, said picking up the character after a near-10-year break was like putting on a familiar skin.
"I was reminded on a daily basis with Gollum (that) he's truly never left me," he said.
Martin Freeman was the director's only choice for the lead role, and Jackson even agreed to pause filming so Freeman could carry out commitments he had back in the UK with the TV series Sherlock.
"Between us - Peter (Jackson) and me - we hashed out another version of Bilbo. There'll be others, but our version is this one and I hope people like it," he said.
The production was at the centre of several controversies, including a dispute with unions in 2010 over labour contracts that nearly sent the filming overseas and resulted in the government stepping in to change employment laws.
The only sour note at the premiere came when animal rights activists held up posters saying "Middle Earth unexpected cruelty" and "3 horses died for this film". It came after claims last week that more than 20 animals died during the making of the film.
Jackson has said some animals died on a farm where they were housed, but none had been hurt during filming.
Source: Press Release