Not much has changed in the last week since industry observers filed a missing persons report on Australia; Baz Luhrmann's $130 million historical romance is still officially unfinished with only nine days to go before its homeland premiere and 16 days before it opens worldwide. Again, Baz, don't hurry on our behalves, but! We learned a lot more over the weekend about those "mechanics of stotrytelling" so troubling the director in his quest to put his Nicole Kidman/Hugh Jackman epic to bed. And massive spoiler aside, it should make for a roiling eternity of second-guessing, DVD revisionism and studio-hating from Luhrmann loyalists.The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that "disastrous reviews from test screenings" rejected Australia's original ending, in which Jackman's character dies:
One test-screening audience member described the film as "an action-filled tragedy'' and urged Luhrmann to change the ending. "If they can tastefully tie this movie up into a solid story, with a nice pace - Baz will have a winner here,'' one reviewer wrote. "And there is no reason to kill off Wolvie (Jackman) in this one - come on.''
Desperate for a hit and apparently not remembering the conclusion (or success) of their previous tragedy Titanic, execs at 20th Century Fox spent much of the week persuading Luhrmann to rewire a "more uplifting" ending. Thus the Telegraph's blunt headline, "Baz bows to Hollywood," a mournful reminder that a nation's pride, history and artistic ambitions are no match for the monolithic will of the men who brought you Meet Dave, Space Chimps and The Rocker. As far as next week's deadline, the visionary Luhrmann remained coy: "I wouldn't say we are within schedule, but it's possibly within reach," he told the paper. At least he's retained creative control over uniquely unconvincing optimism. Look for Fox to have massaged that by the end of the day as well.