Australia to lure tourists with film epic

Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:32am EDT
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CANBERRA (Reuters) - An epic Australian outback movie starring Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman will spearhead a new tourism campaign designed to recapture the country's "mojo" and lure more visitors Down Under.

Titled "Australia" and directed by flamboyant home-grown director Baz Luhrmann, the A$130 million ($122 million) film follows an English aristocrat (Kidman) who inherits a sprawling property and falls in love with a rugged drover (Jackman).

With sweeping Outback scenery and set in northern Australia on the eve of World War Two, "Australia" will see Kidman and Jackman take 2,000 cattle overland and caught in the wartime bombing of Darwin by the Japanese.

"This movie will potentially be seen by tens of millions of people and it will bring to life little-known aspects of Australia's extraordinary natural environment, history, and indigenous culture," Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said at the weekend.

Tourism Australia will kick off an international marketing campaign to coincide with the film's planned release in November, Ferguson said. The epic was tipped to bring the biggest boost to tourism since Crocodile Dundee in 1986.

Some cinema critics have predicted the film will be an amalgam of Australian cliches.

But tourism industry officials are hopeful the movie epic will kickstart the country's tourist arrivals which have stagnated since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The film, Luhrmann's first film since Moulin Rouge in 2001, has been shot on location in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, the Northern Territory capital Darwin and the tropical city of Bowen.

Australia's government recently dumped the controversial A$180 million "Where the bloody hell are you?" tourism campaign featuring a bikini model, which was banned in Britain and Canada.   Continued...

<p>Nicole Kidman speaks during a news conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York April 22, 2008. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>