The Dominion
November 26, 2001

Red Carpet to Roll for Rings Cast
Staff Reporter

Gandalf won't be there. Nor will Galadriel, Gimli and certainly not computer-generated Gollum.

So it may not quite be Hollywood ... but the list of stars to attend The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring's Australasian premiere in Wellington on December 19, announced yesterday, contains at least a smattering of big names to titillate the immense army of Rings' fans.

Heading the confirmed list is the likely biggest star of all, hobbit quest leader Frodo. If the film trilogy is as big a success as predicted, actor Elijah Wood will become an instant household name.

He will be accompanied by the most daring of his friends among the little people of Middle Earth, Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan).

But watch out also for the fair-hearted elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and half-elf Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who supports the quest.

It was also confirmed that the stars would set the grand occasion off by walking down a massive red carpet - the longest red carpet New Zealand has ever seen - extending down Courtenay Place to the entrance of the newly renovated Embassy Theatre.

This was to help "the people of Wellington get a good opportunity to see them close at hand".

The naming of the star guests comes with an announcement by Roadshow Film Distributors that Meridian Energy is to be the sole sponsor of the premiere event.

Welcoming the naming of the stars, Meridian chief executive Keith Turner said: "We are thrilled ... it will be the first time the actors will be back in the capital since they finished filming and we anticipate Wellingtonians will give them a great welcome."

He also alluded to an affinity with director Peter Jackson's production: the energy company had lent facilities to Jackson at Lake Pukaki, near Twizel.

Wellington is to be rebranded "Middle Earth" for the premiere week, with Wellington City Council and the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency organising a big street party to coincide with the premiere.

The street party is due to start at 5pm, with guests arriving at the theatre an hour later; the stars are due to appear about 6.30pm for the premiere's 7pm start. A charity screening will follow later.

The Fellowship of the Ring, the first in the JRR Tolkien trilogy, is to be released in cinemas throughout New Zealand on December 20.