Wellington fans welcome back filmmakers

This article was updated on Dec. 4, 2003.

WELLINGTON, N.Z. — A three-hour street parade for the world premiere of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” drew more than 100,000 onlookers into the streets of New Zealand’s capital Monday night.

It was an emotional homecoming for the cast and crew of Peter Jackson’s NZ$600 million ($386 million) trilogy .

New Line co-toppers Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne and Mark Ordesky mingled with N.Z. Prime Minister Helen Clark, who was draped in a chainmail shawl custom-made by Jackson’s Weta effects workshop.

Jackson welcomed cast members onto an outdoor stage with hugs and kisses, while his wife, co-writer and co-producer, Fran Walsh, looked on from inside the Embassy Theater several hundred feet away. Thesps drew occasionally manic cheers from onlookers, but the biggest welcome was saved for Andy Serkis, whose Gollum declared, “Wellington sucks.” And, in the next breath, “No it doesn’t.”

After the screening, 2,200 guests repaired to the Queen’s Wharf Events Center, decked out as Gondor’s Palace. Producer Barrie Osborne led guests in receiving the traditional Maori tribal dance-and-song welcome. The ex-New Yorker then mingled with his adopted countrymen.

Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving, Sean Astin, David Wenham and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie as well as various Roadshow and New Line execs mixed enthusiastically with partygoers.

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