Ian McKellen will be missing The Hobbit premiere

Sir Ian McKellen will give the premiere for The Hobbit: An Unexpected journey a miss as other stars of the movie turn out in Wellington next week.

In a statement from Warner Brothers today, McKellen said he was envious his co-stars could attend.

"It is thrilling that Peter and my other friends from the cast and crew will be re-united for the world premiere," he said.

"I know they will have a wonderful welcome from the fans and I envy them. As ever, my heart is in Wellington, and I send my love."

In his absence, a huge instalment of Gandalf the Grey, Sir Ian's character in the movie, was unveiled at the front of the Embassy Theatre.

Those who will attend the red carpet along the capital's Courtenay Place include Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving and Andy Serkis who are reprising roles from Lord of the Rings in the new JRR Tolkien-inspired movie.

Martin Freeman, who plays the central role of Bilbo Baggins will attend, as well as Richard Armitage who plays Dwarf warrior Thorin Oakenshield.

The Company of Dwarves will also join filmmakers Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.

Pre-carpet entertainment on Wednesday 28 starts at 3pm with guests arriving from 4.30pm.

Gandalf the Grey atop the Embassy

The statue of Gandalf was unveiled over the weekend, and hangs on the Embassy Theatre where the premiere will take place.

Three sculptors worked for around 500 hours to fabricate the statue, using materials such as 2400 bamboo skewers, 600 grass skirts and 153 litres of paint.

It stands at 9.4 metres tall, which is approximately 4.5 times taller than Sir Ian.