|One minister to rule the one ring that rules them all...or something like that.|
It's estimated that The Lord of the Rings movie franchise has pumped upwards of $200 million into New Zealand's economy, and has forever associated Middle Earth with the gorgeous scenery of the New Zealand countryside in the minds of millions of Tolkien geeks.
But that's not the end of the story. In 2001, the Labor Alliance government appointed one of its senior cabinet members, Peter Hodgson, as Minister for Lord of the Rings. His job, to put it plainly, was to utilize and monetize the film franchise's connection with New Zealand for the benefit of the economy.
With the film franchise's huge success came flocks of tourists coming by the boatload to see what Middle Earth looked like for themselves. The movies no doubt did a great deal for the country's image and brand, as well, as moviegoers the world over now know the country as "that country where they filmed LOTR." For a while, one of Wellington's largest newspapers renamed itself The Middle Earth Evening Post, and the national government even released a collection of special edition "The Lord of the Rings" postage stamps.
The appointing of a Minister for Lord of the Rings isn't the only evidence of the island nation paying high thanks to the movie trilogy: the director of the movies, Peter Jackson, was awarded the country's highest civilian honor for his role in bringing New Zealand into the spotlight with his films.
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