Peter Jackson was asked whether he would consider running for Prime Minister of New Zealand during a press conference yesterday, just hours before the world premiere of The Return Of The King in his hometown of Wellington.

For the record, he said he was "very happy" with his current job.

The question was just one of countless demonstrations of Jackson's God-like status amongst his fellow New Zealanders following the worldwide success of his adaptations of the JRR Tolkein novels.

Nearly 3,000 people saw the film for the first time at the meticulously restored Embassy Theatre and the nearby 10-screen Reading complex last night. Many thousands more lined the streets for a parade featuring most of the key stars, orcs and other characters from the film.

It was probably the biggest public event in the history of the picturesque city of 350,000 people - and one of the longest stretches of red carpet in film ever.

The atmosphere after the credits rolled at the screening this journalist attended was more akin to the aftermath of a religious experience than a film opening.

The several hundred journalists from around the world who previewed the film two nights before the premiere had to sign an embargo banning comment about the actual film until December 8.

A large part of the no-expense-spared media junket was met by the New Zealand Government, which sees the films as a gigantic worldwide advertisement for the country.

The New Zealand government realises that he has helped put the country into the international spotlight and regards him as an invaluable pathway to economic gain. The New Zealand public, meanwhile, love him for making them proud of their country.