Hobbit fever grips New Zealand ahead of world premiere
WELLINGTON (AFP) - Up to 100,000 people are expected to line the streets of Wellington on Wednesday for the world premiere of director Peter Jackson's long-awaited Middle Earth epic The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Stars including Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Barry Humphries and Hugo Weaving will tread the red carpet for the opening, the first instalment in a three-part prequel to Jackson's blockbuster The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
Hobbit fever has seized New Zealand ahead and the capital is dotted with giant sculptures of key characters such as Gandalf the wizard atop the Embassy cinema and a bug-eyed Gollum greeting visitors at the airport.
Images of British actor Martin Freeman playing the central role of Bilbo Baggins cover the entire facades of office blocks and have been plastered on everything from coins and stamps to the side of an Air New Zealand plane.