Blockbuster tourism hopes for new ‘Australia’ movie


It is predicted to be a blockbuster on the scale of "Titanic" but much more than box office returns will hang on the success of Baz Luhrmann's sweeping new outback epic "Australia."

The romantic drama, set in the country's inhospitable north at the brink of World War II, already boasts the cream of antipodean star power with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in the lead roles.

And director Luhrmann is the creative mastermind behind the Kidman and Ewan McGregor 2001 musical "Moulin Rouge!", and 1996's "Romeo + Juliet" starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.

As Australia suffers along with the rest of the world through the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression, hopes are high that its namesake movie will revive flagging tourism Down Under.

In an unprecedented move, Tourism Australia has invested 40 million Australian dollars in a new advertising campaign spinning off from the film it hopes will amuse and attract foreigners as "Crocodile Dundee" did in the 80s.

The government body's managing director Geoff Buckley said the movie, which has a budget in excess of 100 million US dollars, was the perfect platform to push the message that a holiday on the island continent can be a life-changing experience.

The film, to be released in November, centres on Kidman's English character Lady Sarah Ashley who inherits a vast outback cattle station and makes an epic journey across the country with a rugged drover, played by Jackman.

"The movie was telling a story about the transformation of one of the key characters, Nicole Kidman, and that transformation occurred because of her interaction with the land and with the people," Buckley told AFP.

"That storyline resonated with us in terms of the way we wanted to sell Australia."

Buckley said the opportunity to piggyback off that message, which would be backed and marketed by the powerful 20th Century Fox studio, was too good an opportunity to pass up. Plus the movie couldn't have a better name.

"Now here we've got a story which we think will resonate but also it's called Australia so for us that was a fantastic opportunity," he said.

The tie-in between movies and tourism has long been known -- Buckley cites "Out of Africa", "Lord of the Rings" and "The Da Vinci Code" as films which prompted viewers to travel to where the action was set.

But he acknowledges the risk in basing an advertising campaign on a movie which could turn out to be a box office stinker.


Film Business, New Movies

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