Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Book of New Zealand event ©2013 Margie Barron

On November 30th, I had the pleasure to attend  the unveiling of The Book of New Zealand at the Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. This event was part of the festivities to promote the opening of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which premieres on December 13th.

Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Book of New Zealand event with Judy Sloane ©2013 Margie Barron

The experience began with a film hosted by Peter Jackson, where he opened a small pop-up book of the areas in New Zealand that were used in the movie, with each of them magically turning into the real locations.

This was followed by a cold blast of dry ice filling the area, and the curtains opening to reveal a gigantic pop-up book spread out in front of us, spanning the size of two tennis courts, with four sets – each a principal filming location of the movie. They consisted of Laketown – Lake Pukaki, Mt. Cook, Hidden Bay – Turoa, Ohakune, Forest River – Pelorus River, Marlborough and Beorn’s House – Paradise, Queenstown.

After the cast was introduced, Peter Jackson spoke fondly of New Zealand, saying, ‘The great thing about working on these movies is that it gives you the chance to explore the country in a way that I would never be able to do, particularly helicopter rides which in normal life you just don’t do. [We spent] seven or eight hours a day in a helicopter flying over mountains, landing where we wanted to land, because the place looked like it might be interesting .

You got to be in places where you really were not quite sure whether human beings had ever been there before. It would be bananas not to think that that was amazing. Martin Freeman (who plays Bilbo Baggins) gave us each a word we had to say in our answer backstage, and mine was bananas!’

And the director added this tantalizing remark. ‘We’ve got a few little corners of New Zealand that we’re saving up for The Hobbit: Part Four maybe. You never know.’

You can watch the video about this spectacular event below:-


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.