Hobbits are taking to the skies once again, but instead of riding giant eagles, this time they are flying Air New Zealand.
The airline has cut a two-year deal with film studios New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to promote the two upcoming movies, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again.
Passengers to and from the United Kingdom and North America will get to fly on two film-branded Boeing 777 aircraft and watch a special edition of the in-flight safety video, both made with the help of Weta workshop.
A Boeing 777-300 will be transformed into a flying billboard for the first movie and a Boeing 777-200 for the second movie.
Air New Zealand General Manager of marketing and communications Mike Tod said the airline was excited at the prospect of a large number of international visitors travelling to Wellington for the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on November 28.
"Similarly, we will be putting millions of dollars of marketing behind the two films based on The Hobbit to promote New Zealand in new and innovative ways across the globe."
Social media would also be used to offer Hobbit enthusiasts exclusive competitions and unique fan opportunities, Tod said.
Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing of Warner Bros - the parent company of New line and MGM - described Air New Zealand's involvement in the promotion as unique.
"The promotions planned by Air New Zealand in support of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again are both eye-catching and innovative and we look forward to collaborating with them on the campaigns for both films."
As part of a deal cut in 2010 to ensure the two Hobbit movies were made in this country, the government and Warner Bros agreed to work together in a long-term strategic partnership to promote New Zealand as both a film production and tourism destination.
The government offset US$10 million of Warner Bros marketing costs as part of the strategic partnership.
Prime Minister John Key said at the time that the strategic marketing opportunities for New Zealand from the movies would be worth tens of millions of dollars.
- Fairfax NZ News/stuff.co.nz