It’s been Hobbit party time today in Wellington, and I took a walk to party central – Courtenay Place – early afternoon to check it out.
Don’t do anything orc-ward,’ my wife told me when I left the house. We have lame conversations like that quite often.
Courtenay Place is the main café district. It’s our equivalent of the Rue de Lafayette in Paris - only on fast-forward and micro-sized.
It’s often crowded – but the crowds this time were thicker than I’ve ever seen, the mood electric, happy, excited. People have been camping out since last night to get good places for the red carpet walk by the stars before the evening world premiere showing of The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey.
Crowds are expected to top 120,000 – 2.6 percent of New Zealand’s entire population, all jammed into a half-kilometre stretch of inner city street. That’s also a fair chunk of the population of greater Wellington. Special trains were laid on for everybody coming in.
Put another way, a proportionate crowd in the US would top 8.08 MILLION people, all going to this one event.
But even 120,000 is a fair crowd, especially when they’re rammed into a linear kilometre (and where the public toilets at the southern end just got turned into a cafe).
That is why my wife and I decided not to go to the premiere street party. Jostling through packed people while failing to get a view isn’t our thing.
Besides, it’s being shown on national TV, live. A way better view, up front.
But I still wanted to soak up the buzz and feel of the event. So I went down early afternoon anyway to see what was happening.
For me it was just as important to get a feel for the emotion of it – for the excitement as it built – as it was to attend the moment itself. This movie has captured Kiwi imaginations in a fantastic way. More so than The Lord Of The Rings. It bas become OUR movie, OUR national triumph.
And I found the mood electric. There were people with Gandalf hats, people with themed shirts. People with signs. People waiting out the day in the sun – all of them happy, having fun, laughing, just having a great time.
It’s a lot more, for us, than just a movie of a great fantasy story made into a movie by a local boy-done-good. Why? I’ll blog about that in the next and – for the moment – final post on this very exciting local engagement with John Tolkien and his fantastic creation. And I have to wonder. What would Tolkien have thought of this? Of a whole nation taking to the streets in joy and celebration, because their imaginations had been captured by something he’d written? Food for thought.
Meanwhile – here are the pictures. Enjoy.
I’m going to wait for the rush to settle down a bit before heading off to see the movie. I’m not sure whether with all the whistles and bells yet either. Kind of tossing up which cinema to go to. The Embassy – where the premiere is showing – is set up for full 48 fps, the sound system, and 3D. But the seats are pretty uncomfortable. Um.
Are you going to the movie when it opens worldwide in a fortnight? I’d love to hear from you!
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012