The Hobbit Trilogy’s mythical Dragon Smaug has taken his maiden flight with Air New Zealand this morning, swooping into Los Angeles ahead of today’s global premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures.
Air New Zealand, the official airline of Middle-earth, has transformed a Boeing 777-300 aircraft - emblazoning the 54 metre (177 feet) long Dragon on both sides. The aircraft is the only place the film's Smaug has ever been shown in his entirety. It touched down at Los Angeles airport this morning in time for the premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second film in The Hobbit Trilogy, which will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood this evening.
The first film in The Hobbit Trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, teasingly featured just Smaug's eye, leaving it to fans to imagine for themselves how the iconic Dragon might look in filmmaker Peter Jackson's mind's eye.
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the airline has been in discussions for some time around permission to feature Smaug on the 'flying billboard' ahead of the film's official release.
"For our partners to allow Air New Zealand to reveal their star exclusively to the world ahead of the movie premiere and theatrical release in ten days is a huge privilege."
"We worked with the digital effects company behind The Hobbit Trilogy, Weta Digital, and they designed the graphic for us especially for this purpose."
This is the second 777-300 inspired by The Hobbit films in the Air New Zealand fleet. The first was unveiled last year to coincide with the launch of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and has been wowing fans around the world since. Both aircraft will operate on the Auckland-Los Angeles-London route.
Director of The Hobbit Trilogy, Sir Peter Jackson, says seeing his creation on such a massive scale touch down in Los Angeles is a proud moment.
"Seeing Smaug fly off the big screen and into the skies is pretty exciting.
"The first Air New Zealand aircraft features various characters from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and it's extremely impressive, but I think Smaug running the entire length of the aircraft is even more awe-inspiring".
Visual Effects Supervisor Eric Saindon of Weta Digital says designing a graphic which not only fits with Peter Jackson's creative vision but also meets the various specifications required to fit on an aircraft was no mean feat.
"Capturing Smaug's presence and the amazing detail in his design while accommodating the windows, doors and wing shape was quite a different experience for us," said Saindon. "It was great to see Smaug brought to life, and he appears even larger in the film!"
As part of its global marketing campaign around The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the airline has also released a video entitled Just another day in Middle-earth, which features staff from across its business, with a magical Hobbit movie-inspired twist. The video has been viewed online 1.5 million times in less than two weeks.
Note: video and images of the aircraft will be available at www.airnzhobbitmedia.com
Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs ph +64 21 747 320
About The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. The screenplay for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson also produced the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Philippa Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers.
New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Present a WingNut Films Production, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The film is a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production. Warner Bros. Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM. www.thehobbit.com.
About Star Alliance:
Air New Zealand is proud to be a member of Star Alliance. The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance to offer worldwide reach, recognition and seamless service to the international traveller. Its acceptance by the market has been recognised by numerous awards, including the Air Transport World Market Leadership Award and Best Airline Alliance by both Business Traveller Magazine and Skytrax. The member airlines are: Adria Airways, Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, SWISS, TAM Airlines, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways. Overall, the Star Alliance network offers more than 21,900 daily flights to 1,328 airports in 195 countries.