New Zealand airline reveals image of Hobbit dragon

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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.

In this photo taken Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, released by Air New Zealand, an image of the dragon Smaug from Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy is shown on the side of an Air New Zealand plane in Auckland, New Zealand. The image was unveiled to celebrate the premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,"  which screens Monday in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Air New Zealand)

In this photo taken Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, released by Air New Zealand, an image of the dragon Smaug from Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy is shown on the side of an Air New Zealand plane in Auckland, New Zealand. The image was unveiled to celebrate the premiere of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which screens Monday in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Air New Zealand)

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.

In this photo released by Air New Zealand, Air New Zealand crew members Maxence Cherri, left, Priyanka Girish, right, and captain David Morgan, center, stand in front of a plane with an image of the dragon Smaug from Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy, on Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, in Auckland, New Zealand. The image was unveiled to celebrate the premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,"  which screens Monday in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Air New Zealand)

In this photo released by Air New Zealand, Air New Zealand crew members Maxence Cherri, left, Priyanka Girish, right, and captain David Morgan, center, stand in front of a plane with an image of the dragon Smaug from Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, on Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, in Auckland, New Zealand. The image was unveiled to celebrate the premiere of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which screens Monday in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Air New Zealand)

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.

In this photo taken on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, released by Air New Zealand, an image of the dragon Smaug from Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy,  is shown on the side of an Air New Zealand plane in Auckland, New Zealand. The image was unveiled to celebrate the premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,"  which screens Monday in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Air New Zealand)

In this photo taken on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, released by Air New Zealand, an image of the dragon Smaug from Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, is shown on the side of an Air New Zealand plane in Auckland, New Zealand. The image was unveiled to celebrate the premiere of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which screens Monday in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Air New Zealand)

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