The Hobbit cast arrives in New Zealand ahead of An Unexpected Journey world premiere

Stars Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and director Peter Jackson jetted in on a Hobbit-themed Air New Zealand plane

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The Hobbit cast arrives in New Zealand ahead of An Unexpected Journey world premiere
Written By
Tom Cole

Forget advertising your movie on the side of a bus – if you really want to attract attention, slap a poster on a jumbo jet…

Ahead of the red-carpet premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the cast and crew have been flying in to New Zealand's Wellington International Airport on a special Hobbit-themed Boeing 777-300, and the final plane-load of actors has just touched down.

Former Doctor Who star Sylvester McCoy, who plays the wizard Radagast, and four of the film’s 13 dwarves were among the last of the fantasy epic’s cast to jet in on the specially-adorned jumbo.

And after the fasten seatbelts signs had been turned off, they were greeted on the tarmac by Peter Jackson, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and the rest of the film's cast.

The plane is decked out with an 830-square-metre bespoke canvas depicting characters from the film, which took 40 technicians two weeks to apply and presented Air New Zealand with a host of technical challenges.

The airline’s CEO Bob Fyfe said: "You've got to make sure there are no air bubbles. You've got to make sure when it's applied to the aircraft and it's flying through the air, the wind doesn't get underneath it and peel it. It's incredibly complex."

The Hobbit theme extends beyond the eye-catching exterior. Cabin crew aboard the plane work while kitted out in suitably Tolkien-esque attire: leather arm-pieces for the men, and silver crowns for the women. As for the in-flight movie? What else could it be but Lord of the Rings...

While on board, passengers are offered special socks which resemble the Hobbits’ hairy feet, and the safety demonstration isn’t done by the crew. Instead, those taking to the skies in the Hobbit-themed Boeing watch the safety video An Unexpected Briefing, which has attracted nearly 10 million views on YouTube.

The Hobbit-themed plane will play a starring role at the film’s premiere in Wellington on Wednesday, where it will perform a fly-over of the red carpet at a height of just 1000 feet.

Here’s hoping that the dragons in the film look as impressive in flight as this jet.

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