Forget the All Blacks, New Zealand is better known in the US as home to creatures with hairy feet and pointy ears than it is as a base for the champion rugby team.
Welcoming news that Wellington will host the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey later this year, Prime Minister John Key said the making of two films in New Zealand by Peter Jackson about the adventures of hobbit Bilbo Baggins, has provided "phenomenal" global promotion.
"On the research we do as the Minister of Tourism we can tell you more people know about The Lord of the Rings and the making of those movies in New Zealand and ultimately The Hobbit, in America, than they do the All Blacks," Mr Key told reporters in London on Wednesday.
The first of two films will premiere at the Embassy theatre on November 28 where it is hoped stars, including Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom and Andy Serkis, will walk the red carpet.
"The worldwide premiere will just put an absolute laser focus on the making of those movies in New Zealand," Mr Key said, adding that research has shown the tourism value of the Warner Bros productions.
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown is confident the premiere will attract a crowd exceeding the 100,000 who turned out for the Return of the King premiere in 2003.
The council is spending $1.15 million on a party to coincide with the premiere - the money coming from a levy on businesses in the central city.