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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been looking forward to this movie for the past two years. Anyone else? Opinions seem to range from "Oscar contender" to "big budget flop" and everything in between. Oprah likes it though!

Luhrmann's 'Australia' epic picks up buzz from Oprah

SYDNEY (AFP) - Baz Luhrmann hadn't even finished his much-anticipated outback epic "Australia" when the world heard the news that could make the film a blockbuster -- Oprah Winfrey loves it.

The acclaimed Australian director was still to put his finishing touches to the movie, which has been beset by production delays and shrouded in secrecy, when the US talkshow queen made her pronouncement.

"Our hearts are all swelling because, my God, it's just the film we needed to see," Winfrey said after watching a special preview of the sweeping romance set on the brink of WWII.

"I have not been this excited about a movie since I don't know when," she said during last week's broadcast devoted entirely to the movie and its stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.

From a set designed to look like an Australian outback cattle station for the show, Winfrey served up praise for Luhrmann, congratulating him on "your imagination, your vision, your creativity, your direction."

Much is riding on the success of the movie, which has reportedly cost 20th Century Fox upwards of 130 million Australian dollars and was shot on location in Sydney and the country's inhospitable north.

The Australian film industry is hoping that it will result in a new-wave of US-studio backed movie-making here while tourism officials hope the romantic drama will inspire travel Down Under as "Crocodile Dundee" did in the 1980s.

The movie, which features an English aristocrat played by Kidman falling for the rough charms of a cattle drover played by Jackman as they cross the country, will likely benefit visually from the stunning scenery of Australia's north.

But for now, Winfrey's word is all there is to go on as to whether the epic, which also includes scenes of the Japanese WWII bombing of Darwin, will be a success ahead of its world premiere in Sydney on Tuesday.

But entertainment blogger for Los Angeles Times' film awards website 'The Envelope', Tom O'Neil, says that could be enough to sway opinion.

"Everyone trusts Oprah," he told AFP from the United States.

"American film critics had been dreading seeing "Australia" because it looks like a dud.

"It's the only major Oscar contender not shown to any journalists so that makes us suspicious that there's something really wrong with this movie.

"The release of the trailer didn't help anything at all because it's such a bland teaser for the film that it didn't suggest there might be anything extraordinary here. Everyone just kind of shrugged, 'Oh, it's "Out of Africa" 25 years later.'

"And what Oprah managed to do was flip that totally for Baz."

O'Neil said the "consistently clever and inventive filmmaker" behind "Strictly Ballroom", "Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge!" could be in line for an Academy Award in 2009 if the film lives up to expectations.

"Baz Luhrmann is holding the biggest Oscar IOU of moderns times," he said.

"This guy was snubbed at the Oscars for "Moulin Rouge!". They owe this guy and if this movie measures up to his potential for greatness, the academy would love to heap recognition on him and make up for past oversights."

"The expectation is fantastic," agrees Geoff Brown, executive director of the Screen Producers' Association of Australia.

Brown said the Australian film industry was hoping the movie not only encouraged Hollywood to heap praise on Luhrmann but to bring more film production Down Under.

While Hollywood has acknowledged Australian expertise in filmmaking -- following movies such as "The Matrix" and "Happy Feet" -- this is the first time that an Australian has had full creative control over such a big budget movie made here, he said.

"The scale, the scope, the vision is very much Baz but it will for the first time, I believe, showcase Australia as a film producing country," Brown told AFP.

"It is a calling card to the world in our view about we can do."

Brown said he was not concerned that Luhrmann was still finalising the movie just four days before the film's simultaneous premieres on Tuesday in the places where it was shot -- Sydney, the northern city of Darwin and the outback Queensland town of Bowen.

"Baz hasn't finished any of his films," he said. "I think he is still working on "Moulin Rouge!". It's just his nature. He's a perfectionist."

"Australia" is due for release in Australia on November 26.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gwuaCEbRusx_kKbCSZ2nZvnT_-8g
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The world premiere is in Australia (3 locations) tomorrow night (Tuesday). Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman will be in Sydney.

Australia pins high hopes on its most costly movie

Mon Nov 17, 2008 4:47am GMT

By Belinda Goldsmith

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Amid a blaze of publicity, Australia rolls out its most expensive ever movie on Tuesday, hoping the grandly named epic "Australia" will attract overseas investors to revive the local film industry and also tourists.

Billed as a cross between "Out Of Africa" and "Gone With The Wind," the nearly three-hour romantic adventure with home-grown Hollywood stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman is reported to have cost Rupert Murdoch's 20th Century Fox about US$130 million (88.2 million pounds).

"Australia" is a World War Two drama about an English aristocrat who travels to Australia and joins forces with a cattle "drover" or cowboy and an Aboriginal child to drive a herd of cattle across the stunning, rugged Australian landscape.

Geoff Brown, executive director of the Screen Producers' Association of Australia, said the industry hoped director Baz Luhrmann's film draw in investors and lure moviegoers back to Australian movies after a string of bleak, box-office flops.

"This is a truly cinematic film, a real epic, filmed in 1940s style. We just haven't had the opportunity to show our wares on this scale before," Brown told Reuters.

"This is the marketing tool for Australian film. It's an Australian film from beginning to end, shot in Australia with an Australian cast, crew, special effects, lighting, even director, and we are seeing this as a calling card to the world."

Tourism Australia has spent A$50 million on an advertising campaign and promotions linked to the film, aiming to make Australia a coveted destination as the global financial crisis hits tourism, as "Crocodile Dundee" did in the 1980s.

The campaign received a major boost last week when influential U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey described it as "the best movie I've seen in a long, long, long, long time."

FEAT OR FOLLY?

Local film industry watchers were not convinced after watching Luhrmann racing to finish the ambitious movie and reportedly battling studio executives over its length and ending.

"It's set to be either Australia's most fabulous cinematic feat -- or its costliest folly," wrote The Sydney Morning Herald.

But the local film industry was hoping "Australia" would put Australia back on Hollywood's map as a good location, with talent for filmmaking and as a nation producing top-class films.

Brown said reliance on government funding had seen a shift from popular, quirky Australian movies like "Muriel's Wedding," "Strictly Ballroom" and "Babe," to arthouse, darker movies.

This even drove away Australian moviegoers with government figures showing Australian films' share of the national box office dropped to 4 percent in 2007 from 10 percent in 1994.

Brown said "Australia" was one of the first films to take advantage of a new system for privately financing films introduced last year, under which the producer can claim back 40 percent of production costs through the tax system.

"This film is a great example. We can go to Hollywood and say we can cut 40 percent off costs," he said, but added the ongoing credit crisis would clearly make it harder to secure financing.

Luhrmann, known for "Strictly Ballroom" (1992), "Romeo and Juliet" (1996), and "Moulin Rouge" (2001), acknowledged it would be hard for "Australia" to meet high local expectations.

But he said even if the film was not a financial success, he hoped it would draw more international financing to Australia.

"The idea of people like Peter Weir or Australian directors who have global financing ... coming back and working in Australia, that's much more present as an idea," he told Reuters.

"Australia" opens in the United States and Australia on November 26 and in Britain on December 26.

($1=$1.56)

(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York, Editing by Miral Fahmy)

http://uk.reuters.com/article/entertainmentNews/idUKTRE4AG0N920081117?pageNumber=3&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true
 

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I can't wait to see this, was discussing it with a girlfriend last night...
Love Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman and ABSOLUTELY am fascinated by the director Baz Luhrmann.  Loved, loved, loved Moulin Rouge!  (athough my other girlfriend who saw it with me thought it was the worst movie she'd ever seen and would have left if I'd shown any inclination, so your mileage may vary, LOL!)

Betsy
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I loved, loved, loved Strictly Ballroom so Baz gets points in my book for that. They say this is a cross between Gone With the Wind and Out of Africa. No matter what the critics say, I will be there on opening day!

A few more Hugh pictures...



 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Linda Cannon-Mott said:
I can't wait to see this movie also, I think it will be awesome! Last Wed or Thurs. Nicole Kidman & Hugh Jackson were on Oprah discussing the movie.
I wish I had known. It would have been the second time in my life I would have watched Oprah! LOL...

L
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
from the BBC:

Australia's hope for Luhrmann epic

By Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney

Australia is putting on its best cinematic face for an epic movie which it hopes will revive its struggling tourism industry and replicate the so-called Crocodile Dundee effect, which saw thousands of international visitors heading to this far-flung planetary corner.

Directed by Baz Luhrmann, the creative genius behind Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge, Australia the movie - premiering in Sydney on Tuesday - showcases the country's best-known stars and most jaw-dropping landscape.

On top of that, the movie is that most genuine of rarities in the Aussie cinematic canon: an extravagant, big-budget, blockbuster of a film - in fact, 10s of millions over big-budget, if the production rumours are to be believed.

Luhrmann is known throughout the industry as the most exacting of perfectionists.

In recent weeks, the 46-year-old Oscar-nominated director has been in a frantic race to complete this homage to the land of his birth, with regular requests to the studio, 20th Century Fox, to push back the release date.

Rumour factory that it is, the whispers out of Hollywood are that the original ending of the film did not test well with trial audiences, because it failed to end on an emotionally uplifting note.

Luhrmann himself has remained tight-lipped, but recently told the Los Angeles Times: "What's interesting is I wrote, I think, six endings in all the drafts I did, shot three, and I ended up concluding the film in a way in which I, probably more than anyone, least expected.

"And there is a death in the ending of the film, by the way, it's a bit of a twist, and I won't give it away."

The film brings together some instantly recognisable Australian talent. Hugh Jackman plays the male lead, a rough-hewn cattle drover.

Nicole Kidman plays the object of his desire, a feisty English aristocrat, Lady Sarah Ashley.

There are parts for Bryan Brown (Cocktail, Gorillas in the Mist) and the great Jack Thompson (Breaker Morant, The Man from Snowy River).

And the equally great Bill Hunter (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Strictly Ballroom), who is normally the first name on any Aussie cast list.

Riches to rags

Set on the eve of World War II, and filmed against the sundried backdrop of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, it recounts the story of Lady Sarah.

She makes the long journey to Australia having learnt she has inherited a suitably massive swathe of land.

Her guide, as she embarks on an epic journey across this unforgiving landscape, is Hugh Jackman.

The couple, of course, fall in love, offering just the kind of improbable riches to rags romance that's sure to be a winner.

Another pre-premiere rumour has been that Fox wanted more love scenes between Jackman and Kidman.

In a country that is surprisingly needy of international recognition and validation, much is riding on Australia.

The tourism industry is hoping it will essentially become a feature-length advertisement: that Australia, the country, will become the real star of Australia, the movie.

The most recent Australian global tourism campaign, which asked: "Where the Bloody Hell Are You?," was deemed something of a disaster.

Overseas visitor numbers dropped 7.6% in September, and have been stagnant for the past couple of years.

So Tourism Australia has launched a tie-in global advertising campaign, with the catchline Come Walkabout.

So far, the pre-release buzz has the kind of electric crackle that illuminates the faces of producers and promoters.

Oprah Winfrey has been shown a rough-cut edit, and proclaimed it a delight - the most useful of endorsements, as America's incoming President could attest.

She did not hold back when Lurhmann appeared on her show: "Congratulations on your imagination, your vision, your creativity, your direction. Our hearts are all swelling because, my God, it's just the film we needed to see."

Australia opens in the UK on 26 December.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/entertainment/7733409.stm

Published: 2008/11/17 13:27:58 GMT
 

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Leslie said:
I loved, loved, loved Strictly Ballroom so Baz gets points in my book for that. They say this is a cross between Gone With the Wind and Out of Africa. No matter what the critics say, I will be there on opening day!
Just don't spoil it for those of us that have to wait to see it!! :)
 

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I saw part of the Oprah show.
There was quite a tease of a scene involving water. Women in the audience were fanning themselves.
Jackman blushed, you could see it on TV.

Betsy
 
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