New Zealand city renamed to celebrate Hobbit premiere

Wellington set to change name to The Middle of Middle-earth for Hobbit premiere.

Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand will be renamed ‘The Middle of Middle-earth’ in the run-up to the world premiere of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'.

The name change will last for three weeks before and after the 28 November premiere and will feature a new logo on all official documents, postcards and the local newspaper.

[Related story: Ian McKellen almost turned down Gandalf]
[Related story: New title for second Hobbit film]

The city is going pretty big on the release of the first installment of Peter Jackson’s latest epic adventure trilogy. Having secured rights to issue a number of legal tender ‘Hobbit’ coins, the capital will also host a parade through its streets, show free screenings of ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ trilogy as well as set up screens around Wellington/The Middle of Middle-earth to allow the public to watch the premiere.

Name-changer... Peter Jackson on the set of 'The Hobbit' (Copyright: Warner Bros)

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown has come under fire for the decision and been criticised for splashing out NZ/$1.1 million (£560,000) of taxpayers’ money on the events but she claimed it was a good way to promote the city.

She told Radio Australia: "I think it's really important to have not just a great event on the day, but also there is going to be more than 100 different international media outlets in Wellington that day, and we want to tell the Wellington story of talent and technology."

The host city is a fitting venue for the premiere. The movie was filmed throughout New Zealand and was directed by New Zealand-born Peter Jackson.

The adventure movie follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug.

'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' is released in cinemas on 14 December, with the follow-up 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' released on 13 December 13 2013, and the final film 'The Hobbit: There And Back Again' due on 18 July 18 2014.