Dragons on a Plane: First Full-length Look at ‘Hobbit’ Baddie Smaug

Air New Zealand/AP Photo

There are many reasons to be excited about the upcoming release of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," but there is one thing in particular that has fan curiosity piqued: dragons. Or a dragon rather, the titular Smaug. Up until today we've only seen a flash of his tail, his eyeball, his fire-spouting mouth, and/or pictured in our minds as described by Tolkien in the source material.

Now thanks to a clever promotion in conjunction with Air New Zealand, we can all feast our eyes upon the first full-length "life-size" image of the dragon, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch in the movie, unveiled Monday on the side of a Boeing 737-300. The roughly 177-foot-long Smaug on both sides of the plane was created for the airline by "Hobbit" director Peter Jackson's visual effects company Weta Digital. It's a fitting tie-in given the film's Kiwi connections — the movie was filmed in New Zealand and Jackson is of course a native. (Jackson and Air New Zealand teamed up on a similar promotion for his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.)

Air New Zealand/AP Photo

Jackson seemed particularly pleased with the final product and that they were able to reveal the full-length Smaug in a such special way.

"To see Smaug fly off the big screen and into the skies like this is pretty exciting," Jackson said in a statement. "We're proud to debut him here in New Zealand, where our team has worked so hard to bring him to life."

The plane is scheduled to fly from Auckland to Los Angeles on Tuesday for the premiere of "The Desolation of Smaug," which arrives in theaters on Dec. 13.