Monday, 30 November 2009

Hobbits living in Upper Hutt?

A few months ago we visited Gandalf Crescent in Paraparaumu, while on a tiki-tour around the region on my birthday (my 29th, if you like). My lovely wife Aiko just celebrated her birthday as well (by a staggering coincidence, she's also 29 again), and as luck would have it, we'd found another Tolkien reference on the local map, this time in Upper Hutt (Silverstream). What with us both being rings-geeks, we just can't stand knowing that there's a place out there that we haven't visited yet, so off we went.

Upper Hutt was used quite extensively for the filming of various locations - apart from the studios in the suburb of Taita, Isengard's gardens can be found in Harcourt Park, the Hutt River was used for at least three scenes (River Anduin, River Isen, and an unnamed scene where Brego rescues Aragorn), and of course Rivendell is located in the Upper Hutt Regional Park of Kaitoke. And, again apart from the Taita studios, we visit them all on the fullday tours (commercial plug!).

However, the location for today wasn't used for the movie - it's another local street with a great name: Hobbit Lane.

Unlike Gandalf Crescent, this one looks a bit more established, so it wouldn't at all surprise me if it existed before the movie was made.

As you can see from the map below, it's a small cull-de-sac (which is actually anglo-french for "Bag End", curiously) off a main road in the back of the suburb, nicely against the side of the hill, surrounded by trees and shrubs. Again, as with Gandalf Crescent, there don't appear to be any other LOTR related names in the neighbourhood either.

View Hobbit Lane on larger map

Once again, I am not sure about the details of how it got it's name, so if you have more detail, or have suggestions on where I could start looking, please let me know!

Got anything better? Drop me a line!

- Jack M.

John Howe autograph session at the Weta Cave Sunday Dec 6th

It looks like John Howe is taking a day away from designing Smaug the Magnificent, and will be releasing his new books, Lost Worlds and Fantasy Drawing Workshop, at the Weta Cave next Sunday. He'll be autographing them for all comers from 1:00pm onwards, until about 3:00pm.

If the session is anything like last time though, it may well last a bit longer - John Howe is a very popular artist these days so if you want to meet this amazing man, be sure to arrive early rather than late!

If you have other books with his illustrations in them, bring them along, he signed my collection of Middle-earth maps last time (thanks again Mr Howe!). In fact I expected him to sign the inside cover but he signed all the maps individually!

For more information on John Howe, check out his IMDB page, or else the Weta Workshop website has more details as well.

As an aside, since I'm often in a postition to buy cool stuff that may not be available online, would anyone outside of the Wellington region be interested in me buying for them, and passing it on for a nominal fee (to cover things like packing and shipping)?

For instance, the Weta Cave is unable to send some LOTR related items to other countries for licensing reasons, however I could buy from them as a normal customer and send them on.

Leave me a note here if there is a general interest? I'm sure I can find some sort of mechanism to facilitate it, eg, PayPal or something.

  - Jack

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Second Hobbit location confirmed?

It looks like the second location (after Matamata's Hobbiton) has been leaked by the NZ Department of Conservation - Lake Wakatipu, according to the Otago Daily Times, who interviewed DOC's Wakatipu area manager Greg Lind.

However, Wingnut Films (Peter Jackson's company) is denying any such deal at this stage. Then again, they'd say that in either case, so asking them is like asking the CIA who killed JFK; the answer isn't necessarily going to sway anybody.

I've been trying to get hold of the folks looking after Rivendell (Kaitoke Regional Park, just north of Wellington) but so far they've not heard anything yet. Watch this space!

There is one thing that I've been more than a little curious about. So far, we know two things about the Hobbit movie. First, we know that the Hobbiton set is already being rebuilt in Matamata. Second, we know that the project hasn't had the greenlight from Hollywood yet. So, the question I have is this - who is paying for the refurbishment of Hobbiton - is PJ so assured of success that he's funding that himself? Questions like that leave me feeling very positive about the future!

For the full Otago Daily Times article, read here.

  - Jack M.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Update - "Lovely Bones" Red Carpet moved to the 14th of Dec

Only a few days ago I was reporting that this event was supposed to take place on Friday the 11th of December, only to find out today that they've gone and changed it to the 14th of Dec (Monday).

Wotzon has changed it on their site, and TV3's website is also reporting the new date. However, I've just spoken to the staff at The Embassy Theatre and they weren't 100% sure if that date had been set in concrete yet.

I'm guessing we'll keep our ears to the ground for more details! The TV3 article did say there would be stars, and chances for autographs.

  - Jack M.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

"Lovely Bones" Red Carpet Parade & Greg Broadmore autographs

It's been a little while since the last entry - rest assured I haven't stopped blogging but I've simply not heard anything juicy enough to warrant an entry!

On top of that we've finally moved house, and that's kept us plenty busy here as well. I'm no longer living smack in the middle of the capital but just outside it, in one of the suburbs (Johnsonville). Where we were living under the shadow of a hill before we now enjoy an all-day sunshine and a view of miles and miles of farmlands from the top of a hill. There's also a bit more space for me to spread my LOTR collection around a bit more, and put a few old posters back up that I haven't seen for a few years. Yay!

Wellywood is very quiet at the moment, by which I don't mean that nothing is happening, just that nobody is talking much. I heard that there is going to be a central city red carpet parade for the opening of James Cameron's Avatar but it now appears that the parade is for Peter Jackson's Lovely Bones instead. Date is the 11th of December, according to Wotzon. Details are yet to be confirmed though.

The other event coming up this week - two events actually - is the release of Greg Broadmore's new Dr Grordbort book, simply entitled "Victory" (the last one was "Doctor Grordborts Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory" - do I get a prize for typing that correctly without spellchecking it?).

Among the many cool things Broadmore has designed are a number of awesome rayguns (the ManMelter is still my favourite, although I see the Atomiser has now come out as a miniature!). He'll be signing the new book for all comers on Friday the 20th and on Sunday the 22nd, at the Weta Cave. I might just bring along my three mini-guns as well.

I'm having a few meetings with a few contacts this week, hopefully I'll have some actual news to report on the Hobbit fronts...!

  - Jack M.