An expanded and updated version of Baz Luhrmann’s Australia will premiere on Disney streaming platforms as a six-part limited series.
titled Far away, the six-episode episode will feature footage captured for the 2008 film, along with an expanded, serialized version of the story with a new ending and updated soundtrack. The limited series will be released this winter exclusively as Hulu Original in the US, as Star Original on Disney+ and on Star+ in international markets.
“I was originally going to take the idea of swiping Gone with the wind style epic and turn it on its head,” said Luhrmann. “A way to use romance and epic drama to illuminate the role of First Nations people and the painful scar in Australia’s ‘Stolen Generations’ history. While Australia has the film life of its own, this story was told one more time; one with different layers, nuances and even alternate plot twists that we have been able to explore thanks to an episodic format. Drawn from the same material, Far Away Downs is a new variation on Australia for the public to discover.”
The project stems from Luhrmann’s long-standing relationship with Peter Rice, the former chairman of Disney General Entertainment, dating back to Luhrmann’s directorial debut. Strictly Ballroom† Rice oversaw the development and production of the other two films in the trilogy, Romeo + Juliet and Red mill! at Fox and recently attended the premiere of Luhrmann’s latest film in Cannes, elvis, for Warner Bros.
“Baz is one of the world’s best storytellers for authors, so I’m going to watch it again Far Away Downs and experiencing his incredible film Australia in this unique new episodic format was a revealing and unique adventure,” added Craig Erwich, President, Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment. “We look forward to taking viewers into the ranch and experiencing all of the stories that are both held inside and continuing to unfold there.”
With Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, the original movie Australia is described as an epic story in the style of the grand romances of Hollywood’s Golden Age, also updating and subverting the conventions of form with a modern social perspective. The story is about English aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley (Kidman) who inherits Faraway Downs, a large cattle ranch in Australia, after her husband’s death. When Australian cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn drover (Jackman) to protect her ranch. The riveting adventure novel is examined through the eyes of young Nullah (newcomer Brandon Walters), a bi-racial Indigenous Australian child who becomes entangled in the government’s draconian racial policies now dubbed the ‘Stolen Generations’. Together, the trio experiences four life-changing years, a love affair between Lady Ashley and the Drover, and the inevitable impact of World War II.
Far Away Downs is executive produced by Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Schuyler Weiss and Catherine Knapman. 20th Television is the studio.
Nellie Andreeva of Deadline contributed to this report.