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Live stream webcast of the Hobbit Movie World Permiere

Examples of the game-changing nature of webcasting are everywhere you look. From large conferences to political conventions to smaller niche events, live streaming is exploding all over the planet and in many different settings. Now, even major motion picture studios are realizing the value that this powerful resource can bring. This last November, by employing Hollywood event streaming company Now Live, the Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema social media users from around the world were able to virtually travel to New Zealand to participate in one of the most highly anticipated movie events of the year: the world premiere of director Peter Jackson’s newest trek into Middle Earth, the world of author J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy literature, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

I tuned-in to the stream that night, along with thousands of Tolkien and movie enthusiasts: because, being in the business of webcasting, and a fan of the films as well, I had a staked interested. After clicking the link to the stream’s page on Facebook, it was apparent that they had rolled out the red carpet, not only for the film’s cast and crew, physically in attendance in Wellington, but also for the curious and expectant audience across the globe. Those watching the live stream of the pre-show premiere festivities were treated to sweeping shots of the lengthy red carpet, musical performances by Neil Finn and his band (Finn is a New Zealander himself and the music artist behind the “Song of the Lonely Mountain” which is featured in the movie’s credits) and up-close interviews with the actors and filmmakers who created the film. Even if one had the opportunity to be there in person, one probably wouldn’t have had a better experience than sitting at home watching the stream.

Between delighting fans with behind-the-scenes stories and glimpses of their favorite actors, as well as enticing others to find out more about the film, and boosting the hype and excitement about The Hobbit before its theatrical release, the live stream webcast was a huge success. All the music, the celebrity sightings, and the sneak peeks at movie itself (not shown in the live stream, of course) had the effect of generating even more word of mouth and anticipation. Hollywood marketers know how to pack people in and the live-streamed premiere is just one way that technology has given studios a way to reach audiences. The movie has been in theaters since December 14 and has remained in the Top 10 in the box office, currently #1 – ahead of the Django Unchained and Les Misérables – and has grossed $222.7 million. Not to commit the fallacy of assuming that the live stream webcast was the deciding factor here, yet one does have to wonder how live streaming technology could have helped reach greater numbers of filmgoers and propelled the other films to the top slot now occupied by Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. Speculation aside, it is quite clear that live streaming is quickly becoming an indispensable tool for conferences, events, and the silver screen.

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