Where Has Baz Luhrmann's Australia Been Hiding?
by Alex Billington
November 2, 2008
Just last week, Focus Features was being criticized for their lack of early marketing for Gus Van Sant's Milk, which hits theaters on November 26th, a little over three weeks from now. But no one is criticizing 20th Century Fox over their lack of marketing for Baz Luhrmann's Australia, even though it hits theaters the exact same day. Why is this? Because the film isn't done yet. I had heard some mention from within the studio that this was the case, but Christine Jackman at The Australian confirmed it. This isn't necessarily big news, but more of an opportunity to talk about a film that I think could be this year's Best Picture.
These are the stakes: Australia is the most expensive Australian film ever made, at an estimated $130 million, with the longest shoot in Fox's history, and an estimated 170 minute running time. They've got a lot of work to do over the next three weeks if this is going to make the money they're hoping it will. "We always thought it was extremely precarious," Luhrmann admits to The Australian. "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…" So the film isn't finished and the execs at Fox are nervously trying to figure out how to turn this into a huge box office success in just over three weeks.
Baz Luhrmann (seen to the right) is in need of an Oscar. Moulin Rouge was nominated, but lost to A Beautiful Mind; Romeo + Juliet was also nominated but didn't win. From what I've seen so far, Australia has the potential to be the big winner this year, at least if The Dark Knight doesn't gain more buzz. Luhrmann's film looks fantastic and I'm anxious to see it - but I'm not criticizing Fox or Luhrmann for being behind schedule. In fact, I think the suspense of waiting to see a film that has the potential to be this year's Best Picture is what is making me so excited. But don't hold me to my word, because I haven't seen every big Oscar contender yet, and I'm likely to change my opinion once I've seen them all (including Australia).
Getting back to the original question - the reason why there is no buzz yet, no Oscar talk, nothing, is because it's not finished and no one has seen a final cut yet. I rely on other industry folks to feed me early reports on films they've somehow been shown early - but not a single soul has seen Australia yet. This is merely just an interesting tidbit worth mentioning in my early Oscar discussion on this movie. We haven't seen a new trailer since the last one debuted a month ago. Not to fret though, I'm sure we'll be hearing plenty more about it over the next few weeks. So where has Baz Luhrmann's Australia been hiding? In the editing room, of course!