Elf and safety: Air New Zealand gets into the Hobbit for epic viral video

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Most flight safety videos can be tedious affairs, but this new video from Air New Zealand transports us to Middle Earth, with a host of stars from the new Hobbit movies adding new meaning to ‘elf and safety’. The ad has become the airline's most successful ever, getting close to 120,000 people viewing it online every hour and clocking up a record 16 million online views within a week of release.

The film has launched online to coincide with the final film in The Hobbit Trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM).

The Air New Zealand video, entitled 'The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made' features stars of the film Elijah Wood, Sylvester McCoy, Dean O’Gorman and Director Peter Jackson.

The video, which is directed by Kiwi filmmaker Taika Waititi (Boy, What We Do in the Shadows) also features cameos from The Hobbit Trilogy director Sir Peter Jackson, Weta Workshop co-founder Sir Richard Taylor and Waititi himself, who appears as a Wizard.

The safety video was shot over six days across a number of New Zealand’s Middle-earth locations, including Hobbiton and Central Otago, both of which appear in The Hobbit Trilogy. Behind the scenes creative talent from the films was also involved in the production of the video, including Weta Workshop, which supplied costumes and more than 150 make-up prosthetics, and Weta Digital, which created the visual effects.

Sir Peter Jackson says, “Air New Zealand has created yet another fantastic video to celebrate The Hobbit films. This latest offering combines members of our cast and our locations with Air New Zealand’s unique personality. I had a lot of fun on the set with Taika and the team and look forward to seeing the video on board.”

Air New Zealand Head of Global Brand Development Jodi Williams says the latest safety video wraps up a successful three-year association between the airline and The Hobbit films.

“We are very proud to be the official airline of Middle-earth and have worked hard over the past three years to create highly effective global marketing campaigns, including distinctive branded aircraft and Hobbit-inspired online content, which have got the world talking about both our airline and destination New Zealand.”

The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made follows the airline’s first safety video to be inspired by The Hobbit films – An Unexpected Briefing (2012) – which attracted more than 12 million global online views and generated huge media and social media coverage.

“We’re confident our final Hobbit-inspired on board safety video will delight fans as much as the first one and inspire even more people to consider a visit to Middle-earth,” says Ms Williams.

Air New Zealand’s safety video show reel includes the Bear Essentials of Safety featuring adventurer Bear Grylls, Safety Old School Style with Betty White and Fit to Fly starring fitness legend Richard Simmons. Collectively the airline’s safety videos have clocked up more than 30 million hits online.

The video will be progressively rolled out across Air New Zealand’s fleet from this week.

Air New Zealand Head of Global Brand Development Jodi Williams says the airline is thrilled by the popularity of the video.

The video has been viewed by more than eight million viewers on YouTube, six million on Facebook and a further 1.6 million on Youku in China. It has also been featured in numerous media outlets worldwide including CNN, NBC News, the Daily Mail and The Telegraph.

“We set out to make the most epic airline safety video ever to celebrate our three-year partnership with The Hobbit films and the uptake has been just that. The number of people watching it, the feedback from customers and the coverage generated by global media outlets has been outstanding,” says Ms Williams.

The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made has quickly eclipsed the airline’s first Hobbit-inspired safety video, An Unexpected Briefing (2012) which clocked up more than 12 million global online views.

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