With a budget of $120m (£77m) and an A-list cast including Oscar winner Nicole Kidman, director Baz Luhrmann's new movie Australia promised a Titanic-style blockbuster from an epic tale of adventure across the outback.
- Release: 2008
- Directors: Baz Luhrmann
- Cast: Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman
But it seems the film's tragic ending proved a little too harrowing for Hollywood studio chiefs. After "intense" discussions with officials at 20th Century Fox, Luhrmann agreed to rewrite the final scenes to keep alive Kidman's love interest, played by Hugh Jackman.
The decision was made after negative responses to the movie's initial cut at test screenings.
One reviewer said: "There is no reason to kill off Wolvie [Jackman played Wolverine in the X-Men trilogy]."
Apart from sparing the audience the extra cost of tissues, the studio apparently felt that a more uplifting ending would spell greater success at the box office.
The film stars Kidman as an English aristocrat who inherits a cattle ranch in Australia at the start of the second world war. After rival owners plot to seize her land, she teams up with a cattle drover, played by Jackman, to lead thousands of animals across the country, only to face bombing from the Japanese.
The two fall in love during their epic journey although, in Luhrmann's first cut, Jackman's character later dies.
The movie will open in the US and Australia this month, and in the UK on Boxing Day, with the new, happier ending and not, as one critic described it, as "an action-filled tragedy".
The decision has angered some Australian film fans. One wrote on Australia's Sunday Telegraph's website: "Baz clearly has no control of his film, or no ethics when it comes to putting the story he wanted to tell to the screen."
The rewritten ending is latest in a series of setbacks to affect the movie.
Actor Russell Crowe originally agreed to fill Jackman's role but pulled out, and filming was delayed by the worst weather in Western Australia in 100 years then an outbreak of equine flu. "There was nothing that could have happened that didn't," Luhrmann said.
For the soundtrack to the film artist and singer Rolf Harris has recorded his legendary wobble boardfor the opening credits of the film. Harris, 78 put the finishing touches on the track at a studio in Harrow, north-west London, this week.
He said: "Apparently Baz Luhrmann suddenly said, 'This is crazy. We haven't got the iconic sound of Rolf Harris's wobble board on the music. We must be mad'."