New Zealand To Rip Off The Hollywood Sign, And Hollywood Isn't Happy

by Alex Gilman · May 27, 2011

It's no secret that New Zealand's always harbored a little bit of a "baby brother" complex. First, to their trans-Tasman (I looked it up) neighbors, Australia, who apparently have a reputation for taking credit for Kiwi singers and desserts, amongst other things. But now that they've shot a ridiculously successful trilogy of films about some magic Hobbits who are deeply in love with each other, it seems that they're ready to fire a few shots in our direction as well. And they're getting started by aping our most famous landmark.

That's right, the Wellington International Airport is moving ahead with a plan to erect a "Wellywood" sign in the style of our own precious (and often endangered!) "Hollywood" sign on a now-vacant hill overlooking the airport (the photo above is a computer rendition of how it will look). According to the director of the Airport, the sign will represent New Zealand's emergence as a global center of film and entertainment, and be "the city's newest photo opportunity."

Well, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, who have a trademark on the Hollywood Sign, disagree, claiming that the Airport never sought permission, and that:

"We hope that if the Wellington airport wants to mimic our Sign in this fashion, it will proceed in cooperation with us and will recognize that the holder of the rights to the Sign and the party responsible for its continued existence is a nonprofit entity that works hard to raise funds so that the Sign even exists to be mimicked."

In other words, we're going to sue the elf-ears off of you.

On the one hand, the Hollywood sign is a legendary icon that recent events have proven is not invincible to the siren song of shitbag developers who would pave over their grandmother's gravesite if there was a buck in it. So one would think that we should stand with any organization whose goal is to raise money in order to preserve it. On the other hand, this seems like a pretty funny sign, and it seems fairly obvious that a joke sign on the other side of the world poses no threat to the brand integrity of our own landmark (at least, no more than the thousands of tacky, unlicensed souvenirs sold on the Boulevard no more than 700 feet away from the sign itself.

So maybe unclench a little, Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Spend a minute or two plugging things into this WELLYWOOD Sign Generator and see how much fun you can have. And then, I guess, if you're still pissed, go ahead and sue them. Seeing as how even the locals seem to be heavily divided on whether they want the sign or not, you might be doing Wellington a favor.

The CEO of the airport, after all, who came up with the plan? He's Australian.

[top photo via, Wellington photo via, Hollywood Sign via]