Art and Entertainment

Australia the movie, Nicole Kidman,
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman

Can Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Australia’ Revive Flatlining Tourism?

November 20, 2008 04:15 PM
by Shannon Firth
Nearly 25 years ago, “Crocodile Dundee” brought heaps of tourists Down Under. Can a film critics call Australia’s “Gone with the Wind” bring them back?

Much Riding on ‘Australia’ Debut

“Australia,” the most expensive film ever made in its namesake country premiered Down Under Tuesday after much ado and some delay. Set against a WWII backdrop, the film stars Nicole Kidman as an English heir to a cattle ranch and Hugh Jackman as a boorish but handsome ranch hand. Australia’s tourism board has invested heavily in the project and is hoping, along with the movie’s cast and its director, Baz Luhrmann, that the film will trigger “The Crocodile Dundee Effect,” a term coined to describe the burst of tourism brought by the adventure film’s release in the 1980s. (“Australia” opens in U.S. theatres on Nov. 28, and in the UK on Dec. 26.)

Nick Bryant, a writer for the BBC, says that Australia’s tourism industry regards the film as a “feature-length advertisement.” The Independent reports that the industry invested $50 million for international advertising. The BBC also notes that Oscar-nominated director Luhrmann, known for his perfectionism, delayed the film’s release for several weeks and that, according to rumors, test audiences were disappointed “because it failed to end on an emotionally uplifting note.” However, Luhrmann told the Los Angeles Times that he wrote six different movie endings, filmed three, and ultimately chose one that surprised even him.

Last year, David Marshall, a spokesperson for the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) told The Independent, “Lavish and beautiful settings are among the most significant drivers of growth in tourism.” As evidence, Marshall cited “The Lord of the Rings,” which was a boon for tourism in New Zealand, and “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” which unexpectedly drew travelers to Cephalonia, an island off Greece.

The Independent also noted media predictions that “Love in the Time of Cholera” and “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” both released this year, would inspire travel to Cartagena, Colombia and Botswana, respectively.

Related Topics: “The Crocodile Dundee Effect” in other locations

“The Crocodile Dundee Effect” was the popular explanation for the tourism explosion enjoyed by Australia in the 1980s, following the release of the low-budget adventure film. In the 1990s, the same phenomenon occurred in western Montana where Robert Redford shot and directed “A River Runs Through It.” The effect was so pronounced that years later, when Robert Redford again chose Montana as the location for “The Horse Whisperer,” he purposely omitted the Big Timber area from the credits.

The French Riviera has had its share of movie-based tourism, as well. Tourists swarmed the area after the release of the 1955 film “To Catch a Thief ,” starring Grace Kelly and Carey Grant. And more recently, Monte Carlo, a city in the region known for its vistas and casinos, featured prominently in the James Bond film, Casino Royale.

Paris is equally well recognized for film-driven tourism. FindingDulcinea highlights five notable films set in Paris, helpful for those planning both real and armchair vacations.

Several other movies have drawn tourists to New York City’s unforgettable landmarks. As findingDulcinea’s Michael Koegel notes, “In the last 75 years, three giant apes have been shot down from the Empire State Building, while three lovers waited for their soulmates atop the same tower.”

Video: ‘Australia’ movie trailer

Australia” takes place during the start of World War II, as Lady Ashley (Kidman) teams up with a cattle driver, played by Hugh Jackman, to save her estate, Faraway Downs, from the threat of a takeover. Kidman, Jackman, an accountant and a young girl set about driving the cattle across the country as the Japanese bombs begin to fall.

Reference: Movie-inspired travel


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