A poster of the movie "Australia" starring Nicole Kidman and hugh Jackman. (Xinhua Photo)
BEIJING, Nov. 9 (Xinhuanet) -- Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman's hunky new love (Hugh Jackman) doesn't lose his life in the final scene of "Australia" after director Baz Luhrmann bowed to pressure from Twentieth Century Fox to give the big-budget movie a happy ending, news reports said Sunday.
Luhrmann, who is racing against time to ready the epic for worldwide release on Nov. 26, had initially killed off Jackman's character, identified only as the Drover, just before the credits rolled.
But the money men at Fox insisted on changes that transform "an action-filled tragedy" into more of a weepy romance, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
"Australia" is Luhrmann's first feature since 2001's Moulin Rouge! and Fox wants to be assured of recouping its 100-million-U.S.-dollar outlay.
The World War II romantic drama, only the Australian director's fourth feature in 16 years, has been talked up by Luhrmann as "high comedy, high tragedy, tears, laughter, costumes" which has "everything big - big actors, big landscape."
The screenplay is mostly Luhrmann's, helped along by Gould's Book of Fish author Richard Flanagan, and the paper reported he was persuaded to junk his original denouement for a happier one after focus-group testing threw up general disappointment.
In a film that initially ran for over three hours, Kidman plays English aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley, who arrives in Australia to take over a zillion-hectare cattle property. She ends up in the arms of Jackman, who plays the rough and ready cowboy who saves the day.
"It's the first time anyone has tried to make a blockbuster outside of America and that's what he's doing," Flannagan said of his paymaster's work. "It will be an idea of Australia, a story about Australia, taking Australia to the world."
Some who have seen early takes of the film have raved about the breadth and scale of the undertaking, the superb cinematography and the loving treatment of the Outback.
The Sun Herald newspaper conducted a straw poll, with most respondents being pessimistic about box-office prospects.
A reader called Claire said the backdrop of a world economic crisis would help gate receipts because "when times get tough, the tough buy popcorn and try to forget reality."