Wellington City Council estimated that 60,000 people attended the red-carpet event and Hobbit-inspired Artisan Market throughout the week. Commissioned by the Council, the Angus & Associates report identified that 34 percent of attendees visiting Wellington at the time were either from overseas or another New Zealand region.
Wellington’s Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the report findings show that big movie premieres in Wellington "are not just time for a party – they transform into much-welcomed cash. The Hobbit premiere ranks up alongside the Sevens, WOW and the International Arts Festival in terms of its ability to pump money into the economy."
The Council’s Economic Portfolio Leader, Jo Coughlan, says The Hobbit world premiere provided a direct contribution of $9.7 million to Wellington. Other visitors already in Wellington and not specifically here for the premiere spent an additional $2 million at the premiere.
Cr Coughlan says the report takes a conservative approach. "This expenditure does not include any flow-on effects of income earned by those working on events and activities associated with the world premiere, money spent by residents or by businesses that benefited from Wellington holding the premiere. Then there’s the international media coverage the city received – the value of which is more difficult to quantify but which will hopefully have a longer term impact in terms of publicity."
Council’s Event Portfolio Leader, Councillor John Morrison, says last November the world saw Wellington turn on an event to remember.
"The sun shone down onto thousands of fans lining Courtenay Place – many of them dressed up as their favourite Middle-earth characters. Over 100 international media covered the premiere and red carpet coverage streamed out to over a million viewers worldwide. You can’t put a price on the positive international coverage we got that day."
The City Council spent $1.1 million on The Hobbit world premiere. This investment was split between the Hobbit market, public screenings, the red carpet event, installations across the city and an upgrade to related facilities in partnership with the film industry.
Mayor Wade-Brown added that all of the Tolkien premieres in Wellington have contributed significantly to the local economy. The previous biggest – the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King premiere in 2003 – generated an estimated $9.5 million of new spend.
"The impact is much bigger than the immediate spend," says the Mayor. "Worldwide viewers saw Wellington as a beautiful, vibrant city.
"We can usefully refer to the creative and digital talents of our capital in many contexts."
Overall, according to the report, visitors were very satisfied with their experience in Wellington, particularly enjoying the chance to see the film’s stars on the red carpet and the general atmosphere throughout the city during the week. The Hobbit-inspired artisan market and The Lord of the Rings public screenings were also well received by attendees.