The Evening Post
May 17, 2001
Rings Boom for Capital
Talks are under way to devise strategies and projects for Wellington and the rest of New Zealand to fully cash in on the film.
Tourism New Zealand, Trade New Zealand, Film New Zealand and the New Zealand Film Commission have been working together as a group to see how they can best leverage opportunities presented by The Lord Of The Rings.
Tourism New Zealand has been talking with the trilogy's backers, New Line Cinema. The details of those talks remain confidential.
So too are the talks between Wellington City Council's Capital Development Agency, the trilogy's makers, and Village Roadshow, which is distributing the first film, The Fellowship Of The Ring.
Wellington's plans are to be announced in late June. They are expected to include a massive Hollywood-style party complete with celebrities to coincide with the premier of the first film at the Embassy Theatre before Christmas.
Capital Development Agency manager Clare Nolan wouldn't say what was in the pipeline but did say negotiations were taking place with a number of parties.
"We think it's an extraordinary opportunity. Like the America's Cup was for Auckland, so too The Lord Of The Rings will be for Wellington."
New Zealand organisations initially appear to be focusing on events that will give New Zealand maximum exposure to foreign media.
Other announcements will focus on longer-term projects, but The Evening Post understands that doesn't include a museum or a theme park. Wellington Mayor Mark Blumsky and councillor Mary Varnham visited the United States recently to discuss setting up a Rings museum in the Capital.
However, the mission was hamstrung by intellectual property difficulties.
Much of the Rings copyright isn't owned by New Line but by JRR Tolkien's family through the Tolkien Estate. United States producer Saul Zaentz also has a stake.
The Tolkien Estate has been opposed to the novel being made into a series of films.
However, The Evening Post understands it is warming to the idea that some of its property could be used in Wellington projects and discussions are expected to resume.
Some of the best promotion for New Zealand, however, is coming from the trilogy's stars, who are at the Cannes Film Festival.
In a booklet given to media at the festival, Ian McKellen (Gandalf) describes New Zealand as "a truly magical place". John Rhys-Davies says the country is "breathtakingly beautiful". The best comes from Elijah Wood (Frodo): "New Zealand is Middle Earth. It has every geological formation and geographical landscape you can imagine . . . and some you couldn't."