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World premiere of Australia -

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World premiere of Australia

Broadcast: 18/11/2008


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Australia the nation finally has its chance to see Australia the movie. But
can it possibly live up to the hype?

After months of publicity - good and bad - and a production bill of $150 million, Baz Luhrmann's
epic "Australia" will shortly hit the big screens.

Anne Maria Nicholson reports on tonight's world premiere.

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON, REPORTER: Everything about this film is big: the stars, the setting and the
hard sell.

DAVID GULPILIL, ACTOR: We own this movie and this movie is bigger than superman.

NICOLE KIDMAN, ACTRESS: This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I mean, rarely do you get to make a
film that's - that you've dreamed of doing since you were little.

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON: "Australia" is a cross between Hollywood classic "Gone with the Wind" and the
Stolen Generation movie "Rabbit Proof Fence". Filmed in the splendour of the Outback, there are
goodies, baddies and a steamy love story between Hugh Jackman's and Nicole Kidman's characters.

NICOLE KIDMAN: Well, obviously we're in character when we kiss, but it was good to go to work.

HUGH JACKMAN, ACTOR: You'd be amazed what horse riding can do for your physique.

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON: A newcomer, 13-year-old Brandon Walters, steals the show and won Nicole
Kidman's heart along the way.

BRANDON WALTERS, ACTOR: I felt a bit scared when I first met her, but...

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON: The $150 million dollar movie was finished just two days ago, adding to the
pressure on a director who carries the hopes of both the Australian film and tourism industries on
his shoulders.

BAZ LUHRMANN, DIRECTOR: And by the way, the short answer is yes, I felt under a lot of pressure.

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON: The filmmakers have tried to control the media coverage. A British journalist
was banned from a preview screening and news conference because the film won't be released
internationally until later.

NICK BRYANT, BBC CORRESPONDENT: It's kind of odd. I mean, I haven't come across this kind of PR
strategy before. To actually miss the chance of some global PR is kind of strange.

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON: The red carpet is big and so is the Sydney rain that has led to this
last-minute, Outback style tenting. But this is where the hard sell accelerates. Where ball gowns
and tuxedos replace dusty desert attire and it's up to star power to persuade movie-goers to go buy
a ticket.

Nicole Kidman described the challenges of making the film.

NICOLE KIDMAN: The stamina that it takes to work; it took almost nine months to shoot this film.
And, the travelling - you know, sometimes it was two hours. In the morning, we'd leave at 4.30 am
and get to work at 6.30 and then get into hair and makeup and then we'd travel back at around seven
or eight o'clock at night for another two hours and then travel back in again. So, that - those
sort of things are tough.

And the heat, because obviously I have really fair skin.

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON: And the actors relished the chance to promote the strong Indigenous themes.

HUGH JACKMAN, ACTOR: The film couldn't be coming at a better time. I think it's a time of healing.
It'd the beginning of, you know, the reconciliation. And I totally applaud it, I think it's long
overdue and I'm thrilled about it.

JACK THOMPSON, ACTOR: At last, for the first time since Jedda, we're talking about the other people
in this country. It's great.

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON: The critiques are already starting to flow. They're patchy and if director
Baz Luhrmann is concerned, he wasn't showing it on the red carpet.

The crit's are already coming in and they range from "classic", "fantastic" to "so-so", "not a
classic". How do you react to that?

BAZ LUHRMANN: Well, I think so-so, not a classic's not bad, actually. Like, if it's just, you know,
so-so, but it works - 'cos, I mean, given the ambition of it - and people saying it's a classic,
I'm really staggered by that. But really, I think the key thing is to not to stand in the way of an
audience who might be thinking about, "Can I take the risk on going to that?" And I think it's, in
the end, between the film and the audience.

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON: By now, thousands will have seen the film around Australia. Then, the real
test of its appeal will begin, as word of mouth spreads around the country.

Anne Maria Nicholson, Lateline.