Air New Zealand hopes to get some tail winds from the next installment of "The Hobbit."
In a not-so-subtle marketing campaign tied to the movie, the self-described "airline of Middle-earth," has emblazoned a Boeing 777-300 aircraft with a 177 foot-long image of the dragon Smaug.
The dragon-themed jet touched down at Los Angeles International Airport Monday morning in time for the premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. It's the second film in the "The Hobbit" trilogy, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures.
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the airline has been in discussions for some time around permission to feature Smaug on the "flying billboard" ahead of the film’s official release.
“For our partners to allow Air New Zealand to reveal their star exclusively to the world ahead of the movie premiere and theatrical release in 10 days is a huge privilege," Luxon said in a statement. "We worked with the digital effects company behind 'The Hobbit' trilogy, Weta Digital, and they designed the graphic for us especially for this purpose.”
This is the second 777-300 inspired by "The Hobbit" films in the Air New Zealand fleet. The first was unveiled last year to coincide with the launch of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."
Peter Jackson's New Zealand-based digital effects house, Weta Digital, helped design the aircraft graphic.
“Seeing Smaug fly off the big screen and into the skies is pretty exciting," said Jackson, director of "The Hobbit" trilogy. "The first Air New Zealand aircraft features various characters from 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' and it’s extremely impressive, but I think Smaug running the entire length of the aircraft is even more awe-inspiring. We’re proud to debut him here in New Zealand, where our team has worked so hard to bring him to life.”
As part of its global marketing campaign around "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," the airline has also released a video entitled "Just Another Day in Middle-Earth," which features staff from across its business, with a "Hobbit" movie-inspired twist.