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The countdown has begun. In just over 50 days, Wellington, New Zealand, will again be in the spotlight when it hosts the November world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The city will then showcase an artisan festival selling all manner of paraphernalia about the small folk.
To celebrate Wellington's role as host of this much- anticipated world premiere, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown announced on Monday that during the week of the opening, the capital will be renamed the "Middle of Middle Earth".
The name will be widely recognized, reflected on the postmarks on letters and the masthead of the city's main newspaper.
"Wellington sits at the very heart of New Zealand's innovative and thriving film industry," said Wade-Brown.
"It's also the city that has been integral in bringing the fantasy world of author J.R.R. Tolkien to life on the big screen. So for a week around the premiere, Wellington will be known as The Middle of Middle Earth," she said.
Wade-Brown and Matthew Dravitski from Wingnut Films on Monday started a clock at the Embassy Theatre that will count down the days and hours until the first of the trilogy movies is shown.
Wellington is planning to spend 1.1 million New Zealand dollars ($900,000) to mark the Nov 28 premiere of the film at the theater.
It's a fitting venue for the movie, which was directed by Wellington resident Peter Jackson and filmed throughout New Zealand.
There will be 500 meters of red carpet running from Taranaki Street to the theater, and the film's stars and director will be walking along it over a period of two hours.
"Thousands of people want to come and be part of the fun," Wade-Brown said.
The mayor added that Jackson has helped to create a film industry in Wellington, which now employs more than 3,000 people.
In a statement, Jackson said he was thrilled that the movie would premiere in Wellington. "It's special showing any film to an audience for the first time, but even more so when it's in your hometown," he said.
The Hobbit series chronologically precedes Jackson's acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy in Tolkien's imagined world.
(China Daily 10/09/2012 page10)