Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Movement at Miramar Cinema finally?

Back in 2003, Peter Jackson and Jamie Selkirk got together and bought up an old Cinema here in Wellywood called Capitol Court, which is a 1920's Art Deco building. The word around town was that it would be developed into a LOTR related cinema, possibly with a Rings museum attached to it.

Fast forward to a year ago, June 2008, and the cinema had still not been used or renovated. Richard Taylor set up the Weta Cave, with its own little mini-museum. The whispers at the time were that the LOTR museum would be at the Cave instead of at Capitol Court. Everything went fairly quiet for another year or so.

From a Lord Of The Rings Museum perspective, the Weta Cave is distinctly unimpressive - a little disappointing even. The mini-museum is little more than a single small room (about the size of my small kitchen, in fact), and although it's crammed full of goodies, the LOTR stuff shares precious space with earlier Peter Jackson movies, and other Weta movies - which is, as it should be - after all, this is the Weta Museum, not the LOTR museum.

In regards to the Capitol Court building - every so often there are little news items published in the local papers about how the Miramar residents would like still the building restored to its former Art Deco glory, and how nothing seems to have been done, etc.

When the papers consult either of the owners, generally "things" are reported to be happening in the background but quotes from either Peter Jackson or Jamie Selkirk invariably state they are "in progress", "in talks", or "under discussion". And invariably, things die down again soon afterwards.

However, there appears to be some recent movement at the cinema itself, and I've also heard from a number of sources living in the area that there may well be some light on the horizon. I understand that in the next few weeks I may have some more definite news, but apparently the go-ahead on the redevelopment of the cinema has been given.

Of course, this does not (yet) mean that we're getting a "proper" LOTR museum - but if things are moving in that direction, perhaps we will at least get a proper little venue to watch The Hobbit on, in time for release date! Only time will tell.

Watch this space. Again.


  1. It is a darn shame that the country can't put on a better show for visiting LotR Fans. I have seen figures that 3700 people come to this country every year wishing to see LotR locations. with all due respect to Peter Jackson, if he can't be bothered, why not farm it out to those who can. LotR beats the Rugby World Cup
    for return on investment any day. It is clear the NZ mindset on this matter does not reflect reality.

  2. Hiya motorau,

    I think I saw the same figures as you did, so I'll assume you mean 37,000 people :)

    Even here in Wellington I'd estimate anything up to 15,000 people come to the Mount Victoria location every year, and we're not exactly a tourism town (yet)!

    In the long run, I fully expect there to be something bigger than Weta Cave - I've just learnt that Tintin has his own museum in Belgium now, which cost $us20 million to build, and that's only for one series of 24 comic books!

    And an interesting point too, bringing the Rugby World Cup into this - when the English Lions came through, our LOTR tours were hugely popular - it seems a lot of Rugby fans are also LOTR fans! So maybe now is the perfect time to build something bigger, ready for the Rugby Cup as well!

    - Jack

  3. It's funny you should say that, jack. I'm a LOTR fanatic and I also love rugby. I can't see why the two should be linked but I remember reading or hearing somewhere that Whlie filming the movies Sean Astin went to a rugby match.

  4. @Ruth

    I seem to remember that story too, although I can't remember the details... I do know that Peter Jackson came to the Wellington Rugby Stadium (Westpac Stadium, or "The Caketin") and recorded soundeffects from the audience, and used it as the sounds of the vast crowds in the movie (Rohan & Orcs)...

    It makes my job as a tour guide very easy, LOTR being as big as it is - there's always a link from any subject back to LOTR... :)

    You should see if you can catch an All Blacks game while you're here!

    - Jack M

  5. I'm certainly going to try. I still can't believe I'm coming.

  6. Jack, do you know anything about a new Chocolate Fish Cafe? I read somewhere that they are trying to find a new venue for it.

  7. @Ruth

    About the choc fish Cafe - I did hear some murmerings some time ago but everything has gone quiet again. I hope to have more details for you by the time you get here.

    In fact, there's a few things happening with the around the Chocolate Fish cafe - Quick recap : originally there were three of them - two here in Miramar (Chocolate Fish and Chocolate Frog), and another one on the other side of the water in Days Bay, called Chocolate Daze (sp?).

    The Chocolate Daze is still there but it's been sold to new management some years ago.

    The Chocolate Frog is still here in Miramar, right at the entrance to the suburb, cunningly hidden in the Garden Centre. Same owners, same food, same coffee, and most important of all, same fantastic Choclate Fish Cake (No fish, just Chocolate. Yes, Chocolate with a capital C. Wait till you taste it.)

    The site of the orginal Chocolate Fish Cafe has now been taken over by the Scorch-o-Rama cafe, which has ok coffee but there's just no atmosphere there.

    What I'm personally waiting for is the re-opening of the New-and-Improved Choc Fish, and the rumour is that it will be at Shelley Bay.

    FYI - back in May, I wrote this entry:

    - Jack M.

    PS - yes, I'm back from honeymoon. Had a great time, and I'm not blogging about it :)

  8. I can't wait to taste the Chocolate Fish Cake. I hear you had an earthquake there on Wednesday. Is there any news on when they will start filming 'The Hobbit' yet?
    Glad to hear you had a great honeymoon. Not surprised you are not blogging about it. Some things shouldn't be in the public domain

  9. @Ruth

    Yeah, I heard we had an earthquake too... I didn't feel anything though... I loved the footage on, some family had the camcorder running, mum finds the boys under the solid doorframes in their bedrooms, and one of the boys, still wobbly from the 6.2 quake asks "are earthquakes dangerous, mum?".

    Apparently not, then, if you have to ask... :) only in New Zealand... hehe...

    Did I mention my house is on a major faultline?

    - Jack M.

  10. I'm pleased to hear the earthquake didn't cause any major problems. I will be booking a tour with Flat Earth in the next few days. I'll be sure to mention your name, Jack. Which tour do you recommend? Full day or half day?

  11. @Ruth

    I'd definitely recommend the fullday tour - the halfday one doesn't go to Lothlorien, or to the Weta Cave either.

    I promise you it's worth it :)

    - Jack M.

  12. OK Jack. I've taken what you said on board. I will book a full day tour sometime this week.

  13. @Ruth

    Great! Looking forward to meeting you!

    (make sure you put my name on the booking form somewhere so I'll be your guide that day)

    - Jack M.

  14. OK Jack. My husband is just working out a route for our trip. We want to go to Milford Sound but it is such a long way down. Any way I'm looking forward to meeting you.

  15. Sorry, yes thats Thirty Seven Thousand ...

  16. You should try the Chocolate Frog again....I think you may be on to something with the Shelly Bay Site.
    End Of September I hear????

  17. @Anonymous

    Thanks for the tip - I'll do some digging!

    - Jack