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The next time you're settled into your seat and ready to view the essential in-flight safety video you might just get a surprise. That's if you're travelling Air New Zealand anyway. The airline last week introduced a video featuring hobbits and orcs of Lord of the Rings notoriety who share the secrets of airline safety. It's already causing a stir having already received over 3 million views online in just a few days. The in-flight movie features Hollywood style special effects as well as a cameo appearance by director Peter Jackson. The initiative is part of a company-wide partnership with Lord of the Rings trilogy prequel, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which charts the goings on in Shire and beyond before the adventures of Frodo Baggins et al began. The movie is set to launch in UK cinemas in mid-December and stars familiar Middle Earth faces Orlando Bloom, Martin Freeman and Sir Ian McKellan to name but a few.

The partnership between Air New Zealand and Jackson's movie is a natural one as much of the action was filmed on location in sites around New Zealand's North Island, as was the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's stories can visit many of the settings for the movies on the island, many within easy reach of Auckland. Among them Hobbiton in Matamata, around two hours drive from Auckland, enables visitors to wander around the magical world of Tolkien's imagination and see how it was brought to life for the movies. Included in the tour are the Green Dragon Pub and the Party Tree as featured on the big screen. Other scenes were shot in Wellington, New Zealand's capital and also none other than Great Britain's Pinewood Studios too.

This isn't the first time the airline has used humour to ensure its passengers pay maximum attention to the important safety messaging. Previously Air New Zealand has used American keep-fit legend, Richard Simmons, as well as earlier this year creating an animated safety video featuring spoof appearances from rap star Snoop Dogg and Barack Obama. They even created one film in 2009 featuring their staff naked but for body paint. These in-flight films have proved highly successful for them, each generating millions of views online before anyone even saw them during a flight. They aren't the only airline to adopt this comedy approach either. Previously Delta Airlines introduced humour to their in-flight messaging to ensure full attention from passengers as did Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic.

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