Hob­bit au­di­ence sur­veyed

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Just a stone’s throw from Hob­biton, a group of re­searchers are em­bark­ing on their own quest – to look at in­ter­na­tional per­cep­tions of, and hopes and ex­pec­ta­tions for, The Hob­bit: An Un­ex­pected Jour­ney.

Lead re­searcher Dr Carolyn Michelle, of the Au­di­ence Re­search Unit at the Univer­sity of Waikato in Hamil­ton, a short drive from Hob­biton, said she was hop­ing for an in­ter­na­tional re­sponse to the sur­vey, which is sim­i­lar to one done for the James Cameron movie Avatar in 2009.

‘‘Whether or not you’re a se­ri­ous Tolkien fan, and even if you’re a Hob­bit hater, we want to know what you are think­ing and feel­ing about The Hob­bit prior to its re­lease,’’ she said. ‘‘ You can par­tic­i­pate in the one re­search study to rule them all at http://goo.gl/4vsvf.’’

The Hob­bit: An Un­ex­pected Jour­ney, di­rected by Peter Jack­son, was filmed in New Zealand and is due to be re­leased on De­cem­ber 12.

Dr Michelle and col­leagues from the Univer­sity of Waikato’s screen and me­dia de­part­ment, work­ing with col­lab­o­ra­tors in Canada and Den­mark, are hop­ing global in­ter­est in The Hob­bit will help gen­er­ate more than 1000 re­sponses to their sur­vey from around the world.

‘‘We want to see how pre­fig­u­ra­tive dis­cus­sion, de­bate, mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tion of a film shape sub­se­quent re­sponses to it,’’ Dr Michelle said.

‘‘ We’re also in­ter­ested in look­ing for re­sponse pat­terns linked to iden­tity and lo­ca­tion so the wider the reach of the sur­vey, the bet­ter the data. Here in New Zealand the mak­ing of The Hob­bit has al­ready fu­elled dis­cus­sion on a range of is­sues; else­where in the world the re­sponse may be quite dif­fer­ent.’’

Lo­cally, The Hob­bit has gen­er­ated de­bate about the power of Hol­ly­wood to dic­tate terms and con­di­tions in the film in­dus­try – and wider.

An in­dus­trial dis­pute dur­ing film­ing nearly de­railed the project un­til the New Zealand government agreed to in­tro­duce new em­ploy­ment leg­is­la­tion, a con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion which drew wide­spread crit­i­cism.

Tourism New Zealand has launched a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar cam­paign based on the movie to at­tract more in­ter­na­tional tourists to the coun­try.

The cam­paign in­cludes footage of the orig­i­nal Hob­biton set in Mata­mata, yet in­di­vid­ual tourism op­er­a­tors in ar­eas where The Hob­bit was filmed are be­ing told they can’t ref­er­ence the movie in any ad­ver­tis­ing be­cause of copy­right is­sues.

The re­searchers said the study was set to be the first large-scale in­ter­na­tional sen­ti­ment sur­vey us­ing Q method­ol­ogy, which takes a quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive ap­proach. Sur­vey par­tic­i­pants are asked to rank a set of state­ments, rather than sim­ply agree or dis­agree.

The sur­vey is the first part of a three-phase project. ‘‘Next we’ll be look­ing at peo­ple’s re­sponses to the film once it’s re­leased, and also un­der­tak­ing a mul­ti­lin­gual cross-cul­tural study analysing the dif­fer­ences in the re­sponses based on so­cioe­co­nomic vari­ables, val­ues and be­liefs,’’ Dr Michelle said.

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