Baz Luhrmann "up against it" to finish "Australia"

Tue Nov 11, 2008 6:45pm EST
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oscar-nominated director Baz Luhrmann's $130-million epic film "Australia" is due to make its world premiere in Sydney on Tuesday -- but the director says he has not finished it yet.

Luhrmann, who was honored at The Museum of Modern Art's Film Benefit in New York on Monday, is flying back to Sydney with a day to spare to complete the film he has spent four years working on.

"I'm going back to the mixing desk to finish it in 24 hours," the Australian director told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday just before he left for the airport.

"It's right on the edge, we're right up against it. I literally have to on Friday night push that button," he said. "This is really dangerous, I hope there's no problem with the plane going back."

Luhrmann said a rough cut of the film, starring Australian actors Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, had so far only been shown to U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey and her audience, and "Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer.

Kidman and Jackman appeared on an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on Monday that was dedicated to the film and Winfrey praised the film, saying: "I have not been this excited about a movie since I don't know when."

"Our hearts are all swelling because, my God, it's just the film we needed to see," she told Luhrmann, who appeared on the show via the Internet.

"Australia" is Luhrmann's fourth film. "Strictly Ballroom" (1992), "Romeo + Juliet" (1996) and "Moulin Rouge!" (2001), which was nominated for a best picture Academy Award, have earned $390 million worldwide.   Continued...

<p>Australian director Baz Luhrmann arrives as a guest for the Los Angeles premiere of the film "Thank You for Smoking" in Los Angeles, California March 16, 2006. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>