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smaug_dragon_2.jpg
(Twitter photo/@GuyKawasaki)

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) - New Zealand's national airline unveiled a giant image Monday of the dragon Smaug on one of its planes to celebrate the premiere of the second movie in the Hobbit trilogy.

Air New Zealand showed the 54-meter (177-foot) image that's featured on both sides of a Boeing 777-300 aircraft. The plane is scheduled to fly to Los Angeles in time for the premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," which screens Monday, Pacific Standard Time at the Dolby Theatre.

It was the first time fans got a chance to see director Peter Jackson's interpretation of Smaug. In the first movie, the director revealed only the dragon's eye.

The Hobbit trilogy was filmed in New Zealand and is based on the book of the same name by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The movie opens in theaters in mid-December.

The image is a decal, or giant sticker, produced by special effects studio Weta Digital, which also worked on the movie.

Air New Zealand spokesman Andrew Aitken said it intends to keep the decal on the plane for at least a year, until the opening of the third Hobbit movie. The airline also used a decal to celebrate the opening of the first movie.

New Zealand has sought to use the popularity of the movies as a way to market itself and boost tourism.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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