Largest-ever flying billboard

Air New Zealand is getting some major mileage – literally – from what is believed to be the largest-ever graphic to be applied to an aircraft. The airline on Nov. 23 unveiled a Boeing 777-300ER with a full-length image advertising the soon-to-be-released movie adaptation of Tolkien classic The Hobbit. The 777 has already flown on Air NZ’s Auckland-Los Angeles-London route, and will be returning with cast members who will be attending the world premiere of The Hobbit in Wellington on Nov. 28. The airline has promised that the flying billboard will “make a brief spectacular appearance” at the red-carpet event. (Photo from Air New Zealand)

The graphic was applied at Air New Zealand’s Technical Operations base in Auckland. It took six days to complete the 830-square-meter image. Air New Zealand says it will launch a second flying billboard next year using another of its long haul aircraft, marking the planned release of the second movie in the Hobbit trilogy. Below is a time-lapse video showing the application process on the first aircraft, and the launch event (video from Air New Zealand).

Like the earlier Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hobbit movies are expected to boost tourism to New Zealand. The films were shot in the country, and feature some of its most picturesque landscape. Air New Zealand is taking further advantage of the marketing tie-in by using a Hobbit-themed safety briefing video on its flights. It was filmed by the Academy Award-winning Weta Workshop, which was heavily involved in both the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films. The safety briefing video featured cast The Hobbit as well as its own crew members. The online version of the safety briefing video has received more than 10 million hits since its Nov. 1 release. The briefing can be viewed below.

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