Tourism New Zealand, in partnership with Warner Entertainment Japan, is working that passion for all its worth, this time with the assistance of a giant 151mm diameter, 2.1 kilogram "one ring".
The giant ring - a replica of an actual movie prop seen in the opening sequence of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - was recently photographed as it journeyed around film locations in New Zealand.
The photos were then posted on Warner Entertainment Japan and Tourism New Zealand's Japanese Twitter accounts receiving a rapturous response from fans.
The giant ring began its journey at the place of its own creation - Jens Hansen Jewellers in Nelson.
It then visited key filming locations from The Hobbit Trilogy with welcoming Kiwi hosts before finding its way onto Air New Zealand flight NZ99 to Japan.
On touch down in Tokyo, the giant ring went on display at one of Japan's busiest movie theatres in Shinjuku, achieving instant celebrity status with admirers lining up to have their photo taken with the giant ring, against a backdrop of New Zealand scenery.
Tourism New Zealand is now running a competition on social media for the best fan-ring photo, the prize being a trip for two to New Zealand, home of Middle-earth.
Tourism New Zealand's General Manager Asia David Craig says there is no denying the pulling power of all things Middle-earth, the element of fun that dominates Japanese popular culture nor the massive exposure New Zealand has received in Japan through its association with the films.
"After the ring arrived in market, Tourism New Zealand received over two million impressions on social media related to its tour through New Zealand enroute to Japan, all within 72 hours.
"The Shinjuku Piccadilly Theatre hosting 'The Hobbit movie + 100% Pure New Zealand' display and giant ring replica has an estimated 5,000 people on average pass through daily and the New Zealand display is was open for seven days leading up to the movie's opening day.
"We have also secured an arrangement with Warner Entertainment Japan to include a link to a New Zealand travel prize draw in all their Hobbit movie advertising in Japan, which is extensive and includes TV, digital, posters and billboards across key locations around the country."
The movie opened in Japan on February 28.
Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand also launched a two week JV promotion on the day of the movie's release.
The nationwide digital campaign will run for two weeks and utilises Tourism New Zealand's 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand creative material and Air New Zealand's special shoulder season airfare offer.
Work to leverage the second movie in The Hobbit Trilogy began back in November 2013, when Japan's Fox TV were part of a media contingent that visited New Zealand before travelling to Los Angeles for the global premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
Middle-earth New Zealand coverage of 30 mins across two Fox programmes including a 23 minute New Zealand special was featured on Fox channel and Fox Movies Premium channel, showcasing New Zealand to over 7.5 million Japanese households.
Other leverage activity includes:
- Middle-earth themed media visits to New Zealand, with broadcast coverage airing in the lead up to the movie's opening day including one of Japan's most influential travel/game shows, "Discover the World's Wonders" as well as a popular morning show (Mezamashi Doyoubi) and print and online features. Combined audience of over 20 million people.
- Working with Moe Magazine (circulation 60k), a Japanese magazine specialising in fantasy and movie culture to produce a 10 page feature story of New Zealand, home of Middle-earth. Included in the story is a two-page feature from HIS, Japan's largest travel agency targeting the younger traveller, on their Middle-earth inspired travel package, targeted at Hobbit movie fans.
The 2013 year ended with visitor arrivals from Japan up 3.4 per cent on the previous 12 months.
All three films in The Hobbit Trilogy are productions of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production. Warner Bros. Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM. The third film in the Trilogy, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, will be released worldwide beginning December 17, 2014. www.thehobbit.net