An expanded and reimagined cut of Baz Luhrmann’s Australia is set to premiere on Disney streaming platforms as a six-part limited series.
Titled Faraway Downs, the six-episode installment will be comprised of footage that was 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 exclusively as a Hulu Original in the U.S., a Star Original on Disney+ and on Star+ in international markets this winter.
“I originally set out to take the notion of the sweeping Gone With the Wind style epic and turn it on its head,” said Luhrmann. “A way of using romance and epic drama to shine a light on the roles of First Nations people and the painful scar in Australian history of the ‘Stolen Generations.’ While Australia the film has its own life, there was another telling of this story; one with different layers, nuances and even alternative plot twists that an episodic format has allowed us to explore. Drawn from the same material, Faraway Downs is a new variation on Australia for audiences to discover.”
The project stems from Luhrmann’s longstanding relationship with former Disney General Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice that goes 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 Moulin Rouge! at Fox and recently attended the Cannes premiere of Luhrmann’s latest film, Elvis, for Warner Bros.
“Baz is one of the world’s great auteur storytellers, so revisiting Faraway Downs and experiencing his incredible film Australia in this unique, new episodic format has been a revelatory and unique adventure,” added Craig Erwich, President, Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment. “We look forward to taking viewers into the ranch and to experiencing all of the stories that are both held within and continue to unfold there.”
Starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, the original film Australia is described as an epic tale in the style of the grand romances of Hollywood’s Golden Age that also updates and subverts the conventions of the form with modern social perspective. The story centers on English aristocrat, Lady Sarah Ashley (Kidman) who inherits Faraway Downs, a large cattle ranch in Australia following the death of her husband. When Australian cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn cattle drover (Jackman) to protect her ranch. The sweeping adventure romance is explored through the eyes of young Nullah (newcomer Brandon Walters), a bi-racial Indigenous Australian child caught up in the government’s draconian racial policy now referred to as the “Stolen Generations.” Together the trio experiences four life-altering years, a love affair between Lady Ashley and the Drover, and the unavoidable impact of World War II.
Faraway Downs will be executive produced by Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Schuyler Weiss, and Catherine Knapman. 20th Television is the studio.
Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva contributed to this report.