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What in the world is going on with 'Australia'?

November 10, 2008 | 11:10 am

First came reports that "Australia" was still not finished with only days to go before the Nov. 18 world premiere in Sydney. Now there is word from down under that Fox forced Baz Luhrmann to SPOILER ALERT: give his big budget romance a happy ending for stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.


As per the Sydney Sunday Telegraph, the DGA- and Golden Globe-nominated director ("Moulin Rouge!") "has bowed to studio pressure and dropped the sad ending to his epic film 'Australia.' Luhrmann's initial cut of the movie, which ran for more than three hours, ended with Hugh Jackman's character, The Drover, dying in the final scenes. After disastrous reviews from test screenings, 20th Century Fox executives decided the film's final moments should be more uplifting. After intense discussions with studio executives, Luhrmann was persuaded last week to go for a more uplifting ending."

Such a dramatic shift means that the only other people to ever see that first take of the film were the audience for today's "Oprah," who attended a showing last month. However, that screening lacked all the final touches. As Luhrmann explained in a recent interview with The Australian, "We always thought it was extremely precarious. We're going to give it our all and at the moment it’s an absolutely real date. But I would not be truthful if I didn’t say it's a little like landing a jumbo jet on an aircraft carrier in a storm."

Without any early advance screenings, buzz for this Oscar hopeful has been relatively muted. Only a couple of pundits are predicting a best picture nom based on the trailers that have unspooled. However, all that could change when the film is finally seen next week. The first L.A. press screening is next Wednesday, the day after the world premiere. That is just one week before the movie opens wide stateside on Nov. 26. The L.A. press junket with the talent takes place Nov. 20 and 21 while Gotham journos see the film only hours before the New York premiere on Nov. 24.

Photo: Fox Searchlight