Air New Zealand Unveils Hobbit Paint Job


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"Lord of the Rings" franchise director Peter Jackson was on hand in Auckland Monday, as Air New Zealand unveiled an image on one of its planes, of the dragon Smaug, a villain from the upcoming "The Desolation of Smaug," the second film of the Hobbit trilogy.

The 177-foot-long decal of the dragon was installed on both sides of a Boeing 777-300 aircraft, which left for Los Angeles for a screening of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" at the Dolby Theater. The dragon sticker was produced by Weta Digital, the New Zealand-based effects house that handled the LOTR movies.

"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" was co-written, produced and directed by Peter Jackson, and is based on J. R. R. Tolkien's 1937 novel The Hobbit. It is the second installment of a three-part film series, which began with "An Unexpected Journey" (2012), and will conclude with "There and Back Again" (2014). The Hobbit trilogy serves as a prequel to Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" film series.

Here's a cool time lapse of the 'Smaug' graphic being put into place:

Andrew Aitken, a spokesman for Air New Zealand, said it intends to keep the decal on the plane for over a year, until the opening of the third Hobbit film - A decal was also used to celebrate the opening of the first Hobbit movie. All of the LOTR movies were produced in New Zealand, and that country has been able to use the franchise to market itself and boost tourism.

Below is a sneak peak of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," in theaters on December 13:

Image via Twitter.