image1Almost thirteen years ago, Air New Zealand (ANZ) launched their unique fellowship with Sir Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings/Hobbit film franchise by rebranding themselves as “the official airline to Middle-earth,” and wrapping three of their 747’s with images of Legolas and Aragorn. In 2012 the carrier wowed passengers and the Tolkien faithful again by debuting the first of three game-changing inflight safety videos, “An Unexpected Briefing,” featuring characters from the films (including a cameo by Gollum and a ring-toting Jackson himself) onboard an ANZ flight. And a year later ANZ unleashed their fiery Smaug the dragon livery in celebration of the second film in the trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

And though all of ANZ’s Middle-earth-themed liveries, in-flight menu items and cheeky safety videos have been fun and entertaining, the mad wizards behind it all have saved perhaps their finest work for last.

Released earlier this fall to coincide with the December debut of the final film in New Line Cinema and MGM’s epic Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, ANZ’s aptly titled “The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made” is all that and more.

Featuring Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fan favorites like Elijah Wood (Frodo), Dean O’Gorman (Fili the Dwarf) and Sylvester McCoy (Radagast the Brown), the clip was shot over six days in several of New Zealand’s most sweepingly beautiful Middle-earth locations. Directed by Taika Waititi (who cameos as a wizard) the video also features memorable turns from the Middle-earth maestro himself, Sir Peter Jackson, and Weta Workshop co-founder Sir Richard Taylor.

Beautifully tying together the previous Hobbit-themed safety videos and films that came before it, the clip climaxes with an epic “battle” between ANZ’s elvish flight crew and an assortment of snarling orcs and trolls. Ending in hugs and warm laughter rather than severed body parts and bloodshed, the video’s finale serves as a sweet, wistful reminder of the joy that this unprecedented partnership has brought to ANZ passengers and film fans around the globe.

And if the 13 million-plus hits on YouTube are any indication, the answer to Thorin Oakenshield’s immortal Five Armies rallying cry of: “Will you follow me, one last time?” is a resounding, unequivocal: yes! Now, who’s up for second breakfast?

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