From Lord of the Rings to lords of the ringing tills, the Weta team that conquered Hollywood is now branching out into a souvenir shop for film buffs.     The new store, Weta Cave, opens next month and will provide fans and tourists with a chance to get up close to the film-makers.

The shop will have goods ranging from $1000 ray guns to King Kong figurines, and will be based next to Peter Jackson’s Miramar empire.    Weta Ltd general manager Tim Launder said the store, which will stock limited-edition collectibles, DVDs, books and clothing, had been built to help satisfy Wellington’s thriving movie tourism sector.   Movie tour operators had complained that, though Wellington was considered home to Jackson, Lord of the Rings fans often left the capital frustrated because they had no mementoes of their visits, he said.    Tourists often pulled up outside Weta’s Miramar premises searching for something to see or photograph, he said. “We feel sorry for them. Really, this is an effort to try and open up and get people to see things.”

Weta co-owner Richard Taylor said he and partner Tania Rodger had wanted to open a store three years ago.    The five-time Oscar winner said space had been the main deterrent, but Weta Digital had since moved some of its operations, leaving about 220 square metres on the corner of its Camperdown Rd premises.

“The big challenge for us is because of confidentiality we can’t have [fans] visit the workshop but we desperately want to show them something that’s a little bit of what we do,” Taylor said.

The couple narrate a 15-minute “behind-the-scenes” tour of the workshop, which will be screened in a small, purpose-built theatre.    Ms Rodger is also creating an exhibition space featuring props and costumes that will regularly change, including items from Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong.

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