It’s been twelve years in the making, but stuff.co.nz reported that Wellington city councillor John Morrison has confirmed plans for a Lord of the Rings museum in the city centre. The museum has been in the works since the release of The Fellowship of the Ring, with former mayor Mark Blumsky among a team of bidders who visited New Line Cinema in the US in February 2001 to negotiate the right to set up a permanent museum in Wellington. His successor, Kerry Prendergast, took up the cause in 2002, pleading for support from prime minister Helen Clark.
It could be a while, however, before we see the museum actually completed. Mr Morrison said “I don’t think anyone is yelling and screaming to get it done, but they’re looking at two options at the moment.” It’s been reported Peter Jackson’s team is currently investigating two possible sites for the museum. Matt Dravitzki, spokesman for Wingnut Films, said while the company had explored several Wellington sites over the years, nothing was decided or resolved at this stage.
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies have given New Zealand a huge boost in tourism. Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks said that in a recent tourism survey, 8.5 per cent of visitors to Wellington said The Hobbit was a deciding factor in their destination choice. Mr. Perks said that the films have become a big part of the “Wellington story”.
“A permanent attraction around film would give us a way of telling those stories every day of the year. We’ve got the Weta Cave, but something more significant would give us significantly more opportunity to.”
For those Lord of the Rings fans who make the trip to New Zealand, the film-related tourist attractions range from reasonably-priced to crippling, and there is relatively few of them.
The Weta Cave hosts a “mini-museum” displaying props from the movies, and screening an exclusive behind-the-scenes documentary. Entry to the museum is free, and guided tours for the Window Into Workshop are priced at $20 for adults, $10 for children and $50 for a family pass. The Hobbiton Movie Set, which is privately owned, provides tours from $75 for the 1 hour 45 minute tour of the set (but just $10 for the little ones), to $468 for a private tour.
Lord of the Rings-themed tours, however, are not designed for the budget-conscious. From $1000 per person you can take a two-day “Trails of Middle Earth” tour, which includes a look at film locations and props, guided by actors who were extras in the films. Or you can take a “full” tour, with many companies offering tours that last up to 14 days, some which do not include hire-car transport or all meals, and can cost up to $5000 per person. It’s worth noting these extended tours consist largely of what you get on the two-day tour, and padded out with visiting empty fields used for locations and taking you to restaurants the actors frequented during filming. Lunch at these “exclusive locations” must be paid for out of your own pocket.
Hopefully with filming completed for The Hobbit, Wingnut Films can turn their attention to securing a location for the museum. They said that, should it eventuate, the museum would contain costumes and props from films produced by Wingnut and Weta Workshop, as well as props, costumes and models from many other films.
Read more at stuff.co.nz.