15 Year Anniversary of New Zealand as Middle-earth Tour

Mt.Ngauruhoe  which was Mt.Doom in the Lord Of the Rings franchise North Island, New Zeland
A 15 day trip to New Zealand 
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To commemorate the 15 year anniversary of New Zealand as Middle-earth, this custom tailored tour pays homage by celebrating 15 days in New Zealand, allowing fans to relive their favorite scenes from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, in the country where it was filmed. Reality and fantasy blend seamlessly on this journey as you experience Middle-earth the way Tolkien envisioned and Peter Jackson captured on film. Walk through the serene hills of Hobbiton and get exclusive behind-the scenes access to the movie set and a private, after-hours tour of the design studio where the original movie props were crafted, all while visiting the quintessential destinations of New Zealand. 

Customize This Trip For Me
Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Hobbiton House. Photo Credit: Andres Iga
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Auckland, Rotorua, Tongariro National Park, Hobbiton, Wellington, Nelson, Hokitika, Fox Glacier, Franz Josef Glacier, Wanaka, Queenstown, Kawarau Gorge, Punakaiki, Charleston, Picton, Richmond, Weta Workshop, Kapiti Coast, Waitakere Forest, Otaki Gorge, Pelennor Fields, Queen Elizabeth Park, Mount Ngauruhoe, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Waimangu Volcanic Valley 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Auckland – The Fellowship Begins

Volcanic cones rise out of the waters of the Hauraki Gulf, and the rainforest spreads across the rolling landscape outside of the city of Auckland. Quests and exploration, perfect for the Wizard in everyone. Sailboats glide along the Pacific Ocean, and the sunlight glints off the soaring figure of the Sky Tower, the prominent 1,075-foot tall tower at the heart of the city. Your private transfer greets you at Auckland Airport and escorts you to the luxurious boutique accommodation of Hotel DeBrett in downtown. The comforts of the hotel include a glass-roofed atrium, distinctive rooms with views to the surrounding city, and bustling restaurant area in which locals and visitors from around the world gather, a though meeting to form a world-changing partnership. 

After settling into the comforts of your accommodation, you meet you guide to begin an introductory tour of Auckland's vibrant streets and the surrounding captivating landscape. The natural waters of Waitemata Harbour divide Auckland in two, dominated by the iconic arch of Auckland Harbour Bridge. The structure was erected in the 1950s, reaching over half a mile long, and situated at more than 140 feet above the waterway. The scent of the sea is prevalent. Your guide points to the center of the bridge’s arch, beneath which you can see a courageous individual bungee jumping from the platform.

The woman stretches out her arms like a hero reaching towards the water, plunging more than 130 feet with views of the city on the banks and the rushing seawater of the harbor below. You continue to the waterside suburb of Devonport. The scent of freshly battered and fried fish emanates from the fish and chips shop. Antique shops line the street beside book rising above the stores and cafes serving rich coffees. You can see the peak of Mount Victoria rising over the 285 feet above the neighborhood streets. Your introduction to Auckland embodies the beauty of New Zealand’s landscape and warm welcomes offered by the locals, reminding you of how the Fellowship in the Lord of the Rings first bonded. 

What’s Included: private transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 2: Rotorua – A Hobbit’s Home

At breakfast aroma of fresh scones and herbaceous teas fill the dining room. The sweet scent of grape and blackberry jams accompanies the steeping black tea, speaking to the eager hobbit in you. After the meal you have a private transfer to pick up a comfortable rental car, allowing you to traverse the cities and countryside of New Zealand's North Island with unencumbered freedom. The lingering tip of the Sky Tower fades behind the lush hills. The 48 cones of Auckland's surrounding extinct volcanoes become a memory. However, the connection to the landscape in the Lord of the Rings continues, along with your day embodying the life of a Hobbit as you reach Hobbiton near the town of Matamata.

The storybook community in which Gandalf first visits Frodo in the film comes to vibrant life on the set erected specifically for the hobbit community. You quickly become engulfed in the charms of the emerald grasses resembling mounds as they create the rooftops for the hobbit holes. Bright, cheerful circular doors decorate the homes' fronts overlooking the stoic lake. The entire set encompasses 12 acres. The stone bridge reflects in the water beside the rotating wheel of the mill. The aroma of fresh-baked cookies and scones drifts out of the Green Dragon Inn.

The preserved interior contains the iconic tables, chairs, and crackling fireplace the hobbits enjoyed, with a bartender pouring cider from a large wooden cask. You not longer feel as though you’ve stepped onto a movie set and instead believe that the fantastical setting has blossomed into real life, taking you deeper into the picturesque greenery of a more than 1,200 acre sheep farm sweeping to the foothills of the Kaimai Ranges with a guide keen on recounting the details of how Hobbiton was created.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 3: Rotorua – As If In the Arms of Mordor

The scenery of Rotorua speaks to the curious Wizard, with tempestuous geysers spouting water and boiling mud pools causing steam to drift across the landscape as if the melting the surrounding rocks. You wake up in the charms of The Springs, a historic hotel with tranquil rose garden offering a respite from the unique geothermal activity of the region. After breakfast, you venture to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland to view the mixture of lakes streaked with violet and indigo hues besides captivating erupting geysers.

Once inside the natural park, you find Lady Knox Geyser. At 10:15 every morning the geyser erupts, producing a stream of water reaching a height of more than 65 feet. The impressive display of nature's power can last up to an hour. The collection of silica over the years provide the cone with a white appearance, making it look as though snow continuously covers the geyser and its surrounding area. The splashing water lingers in your ears as you wander to the wooden walkway overlooking the mud pools. The volcanic activity heats the mud until the moist soil rapidly bubbles with unique character embodied in the mud's popping sound.

You can’t help but think of the vile landscape of Mordor, bright with bursting volcanoes and lunar-like mounds. Continue to Waimangu Volcanic Valley to discover the properties of the seething mud and steaming silica terraces. Traverse the walkways hovering above the shimmering acid-yellow and lime-green terraces, which look as though the earth melted into a painter's palette.

Optional: In the evening you have the option of partaking in a Maori cultural event at Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley. You can learn about the history, legends, and traditions of the local Maori, listening to tales that blend the past with fantastical details.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 4: Tongariro – Grounds of Mordor

In the morning you leave behind the bubbling borders of Rotorua, passing through the jade and emerald leaves of the nearby forest en route to Taupo. The picture-perfect scenery edges the crystalline northeastern shores of Lake Taupo. The scent of spiced aromas of pine and fern fill the air. The freshwater resembles the pristine beauty of Middle-earth captured in the Fellowship of the Ring, with the snowy peaks of Tongariro National Park lingering on the horizon. The adventurer in you links to the spirited character of the Wizard, taking you past the enchanting ambiance of Taupo into the Tongariro National Park, which covers an area of nearly 307 square miles.

Three volcanoes rise out of the protected region connecting to the chain of mountains circumventing the North Island. The air turns crisp along the heights of the volcanic clad landscape. Trees blanket the foothills of the Mount Tongariro’s massif until reaching the snowy upper-tiers. Traverse the trails of the national park at your leisure, enjoying the full-day walk along the Alpine Crossing. Vents fill with steam and springs reflect the unusual surrounding rock formations. The lunar landscape of Mount Ruapehu was once the grounds of Mordor, with the peak of Mount Ngauruhoe recognizable as the dramatic summit of Mount Doom.  You find hints of red hues and white silt standing out from the black slopes of Ngauruhoe.

In the evening, you settle into the Chateau Tongariro Hotel, celebrated for its timeless elegance, and as the hotel that accommodated the cast and crew of Lord of the Rings during filming in the area.

Optional: You could also enjoy a Sunset Guided Walk taking you along one of the many trails under the guidance of a trained and knowledgeable local. As the sun sets over the remarkable Alpine landscape, you can see the orange, red, and purple of the sky reflected in the snowcapped mountaintops.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 5: Wellington – A Character Transformation

The dramatic peak and barren landscape around Mount Ngauruhoe lingered in your thoughts in the way Frodo dreamed of Mordor every time he touched the ring. At breakfast, the looming summits of Tongariro National Park fade, along with the curious spirit of the Wizard, replaced instead with a focus on refreshing the body and mind in connection with the surrounding landscape, in the essence of an Elf. Travel south en route to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, watching the scenery shift from the lunar grounds near Mont Ngauruhoe to the dense Waitarere Forest, filled with the herbaceous aroma of plush underbrush.

The thin trees resemble the woods of Lothlorien, in which the Fellowship meets with Galadriel, the elfish Lady of Light, along with acting as the filming location for Trollshaw Forest, where the Orcs attacked. You can imagine Faramir blowing the Horn of Gondor between the trees, calling to the other members of the Fellowship. Closer to Wellington you can visit the site of Rivendell, located near the town of Upper Hutt in the Kaitoke Regional Park. In Middle-earth Rivendell was erected as a refuge for the elves.

Outside of Upper Hutt, the remnants of the Elvin city come in the form of the Elvin Archway, a replica of the entrance positioned with a view of the native brush. You can stand beneath the stone arch, amidst the rich embellishments, surrounded by the natural verdant trees. You also have the opportunity to break from the path of the Fellowship to visit Queen Elizabeth Park at Mackays Crossing, where the Battle of Pelennor Fields in the Return of the King was filmed. Upon reaching Wellington, you settle into the cozy Booklovers Bed and Breakfast, an accommodation combining the tranquility of the countryside with the culture of the city.  

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 6: Wellington – On Set and in the Workshop

The Dwarf embodies the spirit of craftsmanship and work ethic, mining the mountains and shaping metals for wares and jewelry. Today you embark on the trail of the dwarf, stepping out of the hotel with your guide to explore the filming locations around Wellington. Visit Mount Victoria trail on which the hobbits hid from the Nazgûl (also called Ringwraiths), and the site of Minas Tirith before reaching Isengard Gardens at Harcourt Park. The beautiful flatlands lead to the rolling lush hills and craggy mountaintops overtaking the horizon. Intermittent clouds pass over the summits resembling smoldering volcanoes, bringing the excitement of Isengard within reach until you arrive on the doorstep of Weta Workshop.

The experts in concept design and effects molded the creatures of Middle-earth into being. Artists crafted PVC chainmail for hundreds of extras, along with the lead actors, miniature models to shape a lifelike image of structures and fantastical cities, and weapons carried by various races of Middle-earth. The tour takes you into the realm of the fantastical, with characters that once filled the movie screen standing before you. A life-size statue of Gollum perches on a rock. Swords, axes, and arrows cling to the wall in a dramatic display that resembles a medieval weapons gallery inside a museum.

Artists inside the studio continue to craft marvels of imagination with characters and weapons adding drama and life to the big screen. However, you can't help but be drawn to the costumes worn by hobbits and elves decorating the display cases along the wall. Your favorite is the elfish warrior helmet adorned with wings, adding grace to dramatic flare. A statue of Azog the Defiler sits on a Warg, brandishing an axe in one hand and sword in the other. And with the private, after-hours tour, you’ll get to gain additional insight into the workshop that you’ll only discover then.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, dinner, accommodation

Day 7: Nelson – Following the Call of the Ring 

In the morning the cafes of Wellington fill with youthful ambiance. Students and professionals enjoy a delicious cappuccino and refreshing black tea before work. You bask in the enticing buttery aroma of freshly baked scones before returning your rental car and boarding the Interislander ferry to journey across the Cook Strait. The adventures of the dwarf continue to compel you during the scenic journey along the water. The crisp sea breeze floats over the edges of the boat carrying a briny aroma. The strait has a width of 14 miles at its most narrow point allowing you to view the southern tip of the North Island and the northern tip of the South Island during your ferry ride.

After arriving in Picton, you collect your rental car and drive to the town of Nelson, filled with elegant art, celebrated gastronomy, golden rays of sunlight, and the Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith. The acclaimed jewelers created the One Ring, worn by Sauron, coveted by Isildur, and carried by Frodo. Replicas of the ring are on display inside the store, offering different metals and sizes. The silversmiths customize the engravings to suit the customer's desires, but most guests choose to follow in the footsteps of Sauron, binding their ring in the Elvish words that cast a spell on the three elves, seven dwarves, and nine men. In the evening you settle into own comforts of Kershaw House Boutique Hotel located in the center of Richmond Town.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 8: Nelson – Between Wizards and Dwarves

In the morning, locals venture to the turquoise waters lapping against the sandy shores of Tahuna Beach. Sand dunes frame the edges of the shoreline near the large grassy park. Skaters roll around the rink and a line forms for the espresso cart. Today is at your leisure to choose which path to follow.

Optional: The walkway characteristic of Dwarves takes you to the World of Wearable Art and the Classic Car Museum, discovering the celebratory attractions of the city’s passionate connection to beauty in all its forms. The trail of the Wizard takes you on an adventure into the air during a high-flying helicopter excursion, similar to the Great Eagles of Middle-earth, in search of the Lord of the Rings filming locations around the Nelsen/Able Tasman region.

Optional: The adventurous route takes you to the airport where the helicopter propellers are already warming up. The blades cut through the air with a deep roar. Once strapped into the chopper your pilot lifts into the air and you can see the beautiful greenery of the surrounding plain. The pilot takes you to the remote location of Mount Olympus, passing first near Mount Owen, home of Dimrill Dale, a valley east of the Misty Mountains. The scenery looks familiar in the form of the rugged rocks and craggy mountaintop.

The geological properties showcase marble karsts, hiding the country’s largest underground cave network. You reach Mount Olympus and the helicopter lands atop the secluded scenery, setting down amidst South of Rivendell. You suddenly recall the scene during which the Fellowship exits from the Mines of Moria. Silver granite rocks sprout out of the green brush along the rocky ridges. The crisp air nips at your cheeks and the refreshing pure aroma of the mountainside surround you. You continue over Cannon Downs, flying above the Middle-earth section of Chetwood Forest. 

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 9: Hokitika – A Light in the Darkness

After breakfast, you leave behind the charms of Nelson, traveling south towards the beautiful and historical mountainous region around the town of Hokitika. The town itself was founded on the promise of gold and maintains a reputation for riches in the mining of native greenstone. The countryside of the South Island is more rugged and striking than that of the North Island. The road south offers you a breathtaking view of the whitewater breaking over the rocks contrasting bright bush-clad mountains. You stop at Punakaiki on the west coast to see the Tolkien-esque landscape of the pancake rocks and blowholes decorated the shore.

The natural wonders began forming 30 million years ago, containing layers of limestone and sandstone. Deep cliffs lead to narrow vertical airshafts. The pounding water has carved subterranean tunnels. When swells rush in, the water purges into the air like a geyser, splashing back down along the rocks. The scent of salt water drifts through the air, blending with hints of the wet limestone. The pancake rocks resemble thin layers of granite place atop one another like layers of paper mache hanging over the water. Connecting with the stunning landscape refreshes the mind, reminding you of the Elvin wisdom. The day offers you a deeper connection to the landscape with your optional discovery tour visiting the Glowworm Cave.

Upon your arrival in Hokitika, you find the soothing luxuries of the Rimu Lodge set inside the spectacular surroundings of a landscape seemingly left alone by time.

Optional: The otherworldly tour takes you inside the Nile River Caves, a network reaching a length of nearly five miles. The aroma of wet stone fills the caverns. The walls are cool and smooth to the touch. Your guide leads you through the collections of stalactites and stalagmites, making you feel as though you have stepped into the Mines of Moria yourself, and await the arrival of the wicked Balrog. Instead, you find the awe-inspiring indigo glow spreading across the ceiling and reflecting in the freshwater pools below. The glowworms light up the dark, taking what could have felt like an Orc ambush and turning it into a majestic, Elvish ambiance.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 10: Fox Glacier – In the Company of Glaciers 

In the morning you find the aroma of fresh brewed coffee a rousing welcome to the new day. The surrounding beauty of the South Island has been almost overwhelming, offering insight into local culture and fantastical history in the ways of Tolkien tales linking to the Elvin state of mind. After breakfast, you take a scenic journey south along the West Coast en route to Fox Glacier. The pebbled shores along the edges of Hokitika break the curling waves. The water of the Tasman Sea contrasts the towering peaks of Mount Cook to the east. The road brings you first to Franz Josef Glacier, which offers the picture-perfect example of nature’s surreal power.

The icy expanse extends for more than seven miles across the mountain pass, reaching a height of 980 feet above sea level. You easily imagine the Fellowship wandering along the frozen edges of the glacier circumventing Caradhras, one of the Mountains of Moria, before venturing into the depths of the mines. The vast ice field looks as though the flood froze in motion, with white water splashing up from the body, now stuck in blocks of jagged ice. Maori legend tells of a woman whose lover fell from the mountainside. Her tears flooded the pass and eventually froze to create the ethereal glacier. The black pebbled plain leading to the edges of the white undulating upwards from the valley floor. You continue to the 12 miles to Fox Glacier, relaxing in the spacious and cozy luxuries of your accommodation at Misty Peaks.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 11: Wanaka – Sky Bound and Earthen Wonders

Your connection to the character of the Elves continues. The town of Fox Glacier is tranquil and welcoming. Lake Matheson reflects the surrounding pebbled shores and towering peak of nearby Mount Cook. The briny aroma of the Tasman Sea drifts across the stones paving Gillespies Beach.

Optional: Before departing Fox Glacier, you have the option of blending Wizard-like exploration with the Elvish connection to nature, embarking on a sightseeing helicopter tour over Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier to view the rugged ice fields from different perspectives. Once in the air, you have a better view of Fox Glacier's expanse, reaching a length of more than eight miles and an altitude of nearly 1,000 feet above sea level. The bright blue hues of the ice standout from the black soil folded in with the frozen surface. 

From above you can see the undulating textures of the field, along with the deep crevices you could not have seen while viewing the glacier from the valley floor. The helicopter lands and you make your way the town of Wanaka. The lake shines a blissful sapphire against the rolling mountains. The relaxed atmosphere of town welcomes you more like a longtime friend, instead of a passing traveler.

You check-in to the lovely Wanaka Springs Lodge, offering pristine views to the countryside for which Wanaka is known. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to enjoy the crackling fireplace inside the lodge, wander along the charming atmospheric alpine streets of the town, or even rent a kayak and venture out onto the water to return to the exploratory spirit of the Wizards.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 12: Wanaka – Remnants of Middle-earth

The thrill of the wilderness returns today, brimming with it the enthralling journeys of the Wizard. After breakfast your transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to into the landscape carved by ice over thousands of years. You step aboard the jet boat moored off the banks of the Arrow River. The shallow hull allows for the boat to glide over shallow waters and speed across deep water. The pebbled shores of the floodplain narrows as the mountain slopes edge closer to one another.

Glaciers in the mountains feed the river making the water cold and crisp when it mists into the air and splashes against your cheeks. You make a sharp turn against the beading waters of a trickling cascade. The boat speeds alongside the steep slopes, passing snow-capped peaks and verdant brush before stopping at Wilcox Green. Your heart pounds against your chest from the exhilarating speed the boat had traveled. Your pulse calms as you venture into the tranquil scenery of the marshland. Walk along the quiet trees and open grassland in the vale leading from the shores of Arrow River.

The verdant scenery represented the Gladden Fields in the Fellowship of the Ring, the place where Isildur lost the ring only to be returned much later by Smeagol’s friend in the river’s silt, providing a unique timeline for the life of Sauron’s ring. You return to the boat and notice the bright indigo hues of the river. You return to Wanaka and have time to visit Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World, a single level maze filled with bridges, optical illusions, and a leaning tower, turning your Wizard-like journey for the day into a hobbit-like exploration of discovery. 

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 13: Queenstown – A Taste of Middle-earth Sweetness

Reconnect with the roots of Elvin serenity today as you make leave Wanaka for the lakeside shores of Queenstown, often referred to as New Zealand's adventure sports capital. The ride south continues to showcase the remarkable natural beauty of the South Island, including the rushing waters of the Clutha and Cardrona Rivers. Before reaching Queenstown you stop at Mt Difficulty Bannockburn Estate Vineyard, comprised over six vineyards across nearly 100 acres. The Otago region provides the estate with a unique blend of climate and earth, which in turn offers a combination of idyllic soils for growing the celebrated Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. 

The cooler climate and mineral rich soils add layers of complex flavor to the vines as the grapes soak up the nutrients and unique properties of the earth itself. Enjoy a guided tour of the estate to walk along the plush rows of vines sweeping into the distant hills. The leaves feel like wax between your fingers and the grapes have a plump body. Inside the tasting room, your guide pours a sample of the famous Pinot Noir. Rich aromatics of dark fruits, brown spice, and forest notes emanate from the glass.

You take a sip and find a plush, dark fruit flavor rich with texture and a long finish. Once again on the road to Queenstown, you stop at the bridge over Kawarau Gorge to watch the bungee jumpers leaping into the crevice more than 140 feet deep, nearly 100 feet more than the bungee you saw in Auckland. After arriving in your cozy and lavish room at Browns Boutique Hotel, providing a stunning view of the Remarkables Mountains in the background and Lake Wakatipu in the foreground, you have the option of partaking in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy Trail.

Optional: The half-day scenic flight takes you across the filming locations of Middle-earth for an aerial view, visiting the beautiful sites representing The Pillars of the King on the River Anduin, Lothlorien, and the stunning image of Gandalf’s ride to Isengard.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 14: Queenstown – On the Road to the Ring

Your Hobbit instinct kicks in once again today, urging you forward on your half-day off road adventure tour to visit the filming locations around Queenstown. Step aboard a four-wheel-drive jeep before setting out into the countryside to view the dream-like landscape that captured the world as the embodiment of Middle-earth. Near the New Zealand village of Glenorchy, you can see the textured ridges of the Middle-earthen Misty Mountains. The ride takes you over the rocky banks of the Shotover River in Skippers Canyon. Your guide points to the curve in the cliffs and asks you if it looks familiar.

Any second you expect the water to rise and rush over the jeep as it did in the Ford of Bruinen, when Arwen summons the flood to wash away the Nine chasing Frodo. Outside of Glenorchy, you discover Paradise, the scenery of which contrasts the name. The dramatic jagged mountaintops rise above the open plain and represent the home of Isengard, absent of Saruman’s tower. The aroma of fresh beech trees emanates from the forest outside of Paradise, serving Lothlorien, a forest and Elven realm situated beside the Misty Mountains. The movie screen no longer contains the excitement of the film, and instead, you have stepped into the natural landscape blending the true wonders of New Zealand with the enchanting world of Middle-earth.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 15: Queenstown – Unforgettable Fellowship

In the morning the sunlight spreads across the reflective waters of Lake Wakatipu. The Remarkables Mountains offer a clear picture of the landscape beyond the city. Gondolas traverse the slope of Walter Peak, passing over Douglas fir and pine trees. At breakfast you remember the ring you carried from Nelson to Queenstown, tracing the thrills and splendors of your journey across the North and South islands. Your adventure embodied the attributes of Wizards, Elves, Hobbits, and Dwarves, abundant with adventure, discovery, refreshing scenery, and riches. You make your way to the airport when you are ready with your rental car, remembering the adventures in the Fellowship of the Ring continued with Sam and Frodo crossing the river on their journey to Mordor. You no longer need to make your way to Mordor but know there is always another adventure waiting.

What’s Included: breakfast


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

From $5,935 per person based on double occupancy

Note: Zicasso and "15 Year Anniversary of New Zealand as Middle-earth Tour" are not affiliated with, or sponsored or endorsed by, Middle-earth Enterprises, The Saul Zaentz Company, New Line Cinema, WingNut Films, Warner Bros.