Written by: Laura Adamavich ’20
This blog post is written in response to Laura’s trip to New Zealand with Professors Doug Brattebo and Acacia Parks during the fall 2017 3-week.
While studying abroad in New Zealand, the topic I chose to research and write a literature review about was the two main drivers behind any country; culture and economy. More specifically, I wanted to find out how the filming of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, as well as The Hobbit trilogy affected the economy and culture of New Zealand. Both trilogies were filmed and edited entirely in New Zealand at multiple locations throughout the country, as well in Weta Workshop and Weta Design. Both Weta Design and Weta Workshop are based in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. The main attraction, however, is in Matamata, or the home to Hobbiton. Hobbiton is major tourist attraction for most people visiting New Zealand. The economy was affected mostly because of tourism, as tourism generates about sixty-two million dollars a day for New Zealand. Lord of the Rings (LotR) is not the only reason behind tourism, but it generates about thirty-three million dollars a year out of all tourist funds.
What I found to both most exciting result from the movies being filmed was that New Zealand is now an upcoming, popular place for filming, or working on graphics. Other than LotR and The Hobbit, popular movies like Narnia, The Piano, and King Kong were shot on New Zealand locations. Avatar is another movie that most people do not know was filmed in New Zealand. The movie was done entirely in Weta Workshop and Weta Design in Wellington. All costumes, props, and graphics were done in these two studios. Another exciting aspect about New Zealand becoming a film industry hotspot is that it is creating a lot of jobs for native actors, producers, filmmakers, and specialty workers. Those who were involved in any way are excited to be apart of something so popular and well known.
While taking a guided tour around the Hobbiton set, our class got to experience a real Hobbit feast with a ton of amazing food that New Zealand is famous for. We also got to go into the bar The Green Dragon Inn, which was popular in the films and known for its drinks. There were two beers and a cider that were only sold in this pub, or could be fought specifically in the gift shop. Anyone who was a huge fan of the movies had a fantastic time looking through all of the different items that could be purchased to take home their own piece of LotR. We learned a lot of fun facts about filming, and the set itself. The country as a whole looks like it is straight out of a fantasy land, making it perfect for the movies. The director, Peter Jackson, is a New Zealand native, and he said that he envisioned the movies feeling like home to its fans, and what better place than his own home town.
Although I am not an avid Lord of the Rings fan, I will say that this was one of my favorite parts on the trip, and it is something I will remember for a long time to come. The landscape was beautiful and I really felt like I was apart of the movie while wandering around the grounds.