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banner Friday, 22 March, 2002, 18:52 GMT
Kiwis hope for Rings success
The Lord of the Rings
More than 40 New Zealand locations were used
New Zealand looks set to grind to a halt as the country waits to hear the fate of The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring at the Academy Awards.

The Peter Jackson movie, which is up for 13 awards, was shot in more than 40 locations around the country.

The South Pacific island normally only gets excited at sports matches, but many will be glued to their TV screens when the ceremony is screened on Monday afternoon.

We are not really a big showbiz culture country

Film reviewer Phil Wakefield
The Fellowship of the Ring is the first of the JRR Tolkien trilogy to have been released - the others follow in December 2002 and 2003.

Katherine Drumm of the New Zealand Film Commission said Kiwis are hoping for Oscar glory.

She said: "The entire country is in a state of great excitement about Monday and is hopeful that Rings will pick up some key awards."

The film has taken more than $700m (490m) at the worldwide box office and has won a host of awards, including best picture at the Baftas.

Peter Jackson won best film at the Baftas
Peter Jackson won best film at the Baftas
Ms Drumm said the film was causing the most excitement in the capital Wellington, base for Jackson's production company Wingnut Films.

She said: "If you walk down the road, people are talking about it, certainly Wellington is gripped with Oscar fever in the build-up to the whole thing."

There is also local backing for New Zealand-born actor Russell Crowe, who is the favourite to win his second successive Oscar for A Beautiful Mind.

Film reviewer Phil Wakefield said the country was taking a lot more interest in this year's awards than before.

Russell Crowe is favourite for the Oscar
Russell Crowe is favourite for the Oscar
He said: "Usually the Oscars are not that interesting to the average Kiwi. We are not really a big showbiz culture country."

That has not stopped the New Zealand government jumping on the bandwagon and a senior minister has been despatched to Los Angeles this weekend to market the country.

It has committed $2.2 million (1.5m) for marketing and promotional programmes to promote ties to the movie.

And this year's ceremony promises to be a glittering occasion, not least because one of the guests will appear wearing a 3.5m diamond-studded dress - thought to be the most expensive garment ever made.

Jules Asner, who presents TV show E! Entertainment will wear the dress, and will be accompanied throughout the evening by an armed security guard.

It was made by top Hollywood designer Anne Bowen with 5,000 specially cut diamonds.

The Oscars ceremony is broadcast live on BBC Two on Monday 25 March from 0045-0500 GMT and reported live on BBC News Online.

The Lord of the Rings
Watch a clip from The Lord of the Rings
See also:

21 Mar 02 | Oscars 2002
Rings favourite to sweep Oscars
13 Feb 02 | Oscars 2002
Kiwis hail Rings director Jackson
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