Well, once again, New Zealand has Tolkien fever. What started over a decade ago with the release of the first of the Lord of the Rings films (which if you don't know by now were made here) is building to another crescendo today with the world premiere of the first in The Hobbit series of films.
(Side note: I refuse to call it a trilogy, because it's not! The Hobbit is a single book and is just being split into three parts so they can get the most out of the story … right?)
People living overseas might not quite get how insane the New Zealand media goes about these films. For a start, there's going to be almost four hours of live coverage of the red carpet event today, and no doubt many more pages to add to the glut of articles and information that's already clogging the newswires.
This mania certainly happens partly because these films are just do damn good (IMO), but the phenomenon is also part of this strange mindset Kiwis where we don't seem to rate our own success or talent unless someone from offshore does so first. (Flight of the Conchords anyone?) Peter Jackson winning all those Oscars was possibly a clincher, but the self-doubt remains.
On top of the expectation pile is the NZ Tourism campaign. While it's a pretty safe bet the films will do well, that's not stopping the NZ tourism industry from holding its breath to see if its 100% Middle Earth campaign will actually bring enough punters to our shores to justify the cash outlay for the ad campaign.
All I can say to that, and anyone seeing the films is, believe the hype. Come and visit! I've lived here for 14 years now and still love the place. All the locations you see in the films are so accessible and beautiful; you should come and see them for yourself if you can. Then stop by Auckland and let's have a beer.
Until such a time, happy Hobbit day!