Peter Jackson at the premiere of King Kong
Wellington welcomed Peter Jackson and the cast of King Kong at a red carpet screening on 14 December 2005. Stars attending included Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, Colin Hanks, Jamie Bell, and Andy Serkis - who performed the role of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and also performed as King Kong. New Zealand celebrities attended the screening as well, including rugby star Dan Carter and musician Dave Dobbyn.
King Kong on Courtenay Place
Courtenay Place was full, with more than 20,000 people spilling out of bars and cafés and lining the red carpet.
Before the stars arrived the crowds were entertained by buskers, stilt walkers, comedians, and the local band OdESSA. Grandstands and two big screens were set up so everyone could see. The entire area was closed to traffic to make a pedestrian-friendly zone.
As the celebrities walked along the red carpet, fans cheered and waved giant bananas. Many of the stars stopped to sign autographs and talk to people, but it was home-town hero Peter Jackson who got the biggest roar from the crowd.
The screening took place at the Embassy Theatre, which was restored in 2003 for the World Premiere of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
For the King Kong screening the theatre was dressed up as The Alhambra, the theatre where King Kong is chained in the movie. A full-scale replica of the plane that shot Kong off the Empire State Building stood nearby, along with a 1930s New York police car and extras in 1930s costumes.
King Kong: a Wellington movie
Peter Jackson described King Kong as "a Wellington movie," and "95% Miramar". The 1930s New York street scenes in the movie were filmed on a set built in nearby Seaview, and for months locals saw the ship from the movie moored at Wellington's Miramar Wharf.
Colin Hanks said that the red carpet screening was the "best way to end the experience here in Wellington", as it was "with people in Wellington who we made it with".