New Zealand’s currency is about to get 100% more Hobbit on it.
While New Zealand isn’t Middle Earth, it does play it in the movies — with starring roles in the film version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the forthcoming The Hobbit films. Apparently that’s more than enough reason to put characters from the classic fantasy series on the nation’s money and stamps.
Beginning Nov. 1, New Zealand will be putting The Hobbit on its national currency and postage stamps, according to AFP, to coincide with the first installment of Kiwi director Peter Jackson’s next three-part epic, which hits theaters Nov. 28th. The commemorative coins stamped with the faces of Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins and Gollum will be legal tender for Kiwis, although they’ll primarily be aimed at collectors. The coins will have a face value of between NZ $1 and NZ $10 (About eighty cents and $8, respectively) but will retail for far more; the most expensive, an NZ $10 coin made from an ounce of pure gold, will set enthusiasts back more than $3,000.
New Zealand enjoyed a significant boom in tourism after The Lord of the Rings trilogy was released in 2001-03. The country is hoping to repeat that success in the wake of The Hobbit movies. To do that, Tourism New Zealand is thinking big. Not only are they stamping the country’s coins with characters from the film, but they are looking to re-brand the entire country as “100% Middle Earth.” To help reach that goal, when the first installment of The Hobbit trilogy, An Unexpected Journey, premieres there next month, the capital city, Wellington, will be unofficially renamed “The Middle Of Middle-Earth” for three weeks.
Sir Ian McKellen, the academy-award winning actor who will be reprising his role as wizard Gandalf the Grey, couldn’t be happier about the plan. As he told TVNZ, “To put Gandalf on these splendiferous coins is a wizard idea.”