An Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300 aircraft shows the mythical dragon Smaug in the second installment of Sir Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" movie trilogy, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug."
New Zealand's national airline unveiled a giant image Monday of the dragon Smaug on one of its planes to celebrate the premiere of the second movie in the "Hobbit" trilogy.
Air New Zealand showed the 177-foot image that's featured on both sides of a Boeing 777-300 aircraft. The plane is scheduled to fly to Los Angeles in time for the premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," which screens Monday at the Dolby Theatre.
It was the first time fans got a chance to see director Peter Jackson's interpretation of Smaug. In the first movie, the director revealed only the dragon's eye.
AIR NEW ZEALAND
The Hobbit trilogy, based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien, was filmed in New Zealand.
The "Hobbit" trilogy was filmed in New Zealand and is based on the book of the same name by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The movie opens in theaters in mid-December.
The image is a decal, or giant sticker, produced by special effects studio Weta Digital, which also worked on the movie.
Air New Zealand spokesman Andrew Aitken said it intends to keep the decal on the plane for at least a year, until the opening of the third Hobbit movie. The airline also used a decal to celebrate the opening of the first movie.
New Zealand has sought to use the popularity of the movies as a way to market itself and boost tourism.
"An airline brand comes to life when it can bring a feel of the destination it's flying to, onboard," said Shashank Nigam, CEO of SimpliFlying, an airline marketing and consulting firm. "Air New Zealand has often done this through special liveries, like the latest 'Hobbit'-themed one. Even before boarding, passengers get a feel of their destination — in fact, anyone who sees the plane is likely to think about flying on it."
NBC News contributor Harriet Baskas contributed to this report.
First published December 2 2013, 9:35 AM