After months of rumour and speculation, director Baz Luhrmann will finally unveil his epic film Australia at the world premiere in Sydney on Tuesday.
Anticipation surrounding the most expensive Australian film ever made is huge, both locally and overseas.
Many say it has the potential to become one of the great epics, and could beat Crocodile Dundee at the Australian box office.
This, before few have even seen the final product.
The romantic action-adventure film, set in northern Australia, follows the story of Lady Sarah Ashley, played by Nicole Kidman, who inherits a remote cattle station called Faraway Downs in the mid-1930s, before World War II.
When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn cattle drover (Hugh Jackman) to drive 2000 head of cattle across the country, only to still face the bombing of Darwin by Japanese forces.
While the film is a love story between Kidman’s character and Jackman’s drover, it is also Luhrmann’s love story to his country.
“One of the reasons I started on this creative journey, what I sought to get out of it, was a more direct understanding of my country,” Luhrmann said.
“I became deeply connected to the truth and realities of my homeland, its history and its people.”
There were rumours it had gone way over budget, was too long, had tested so badly that Luhrmann had to change the ending, and that the director was struggling to finish it in time.
Luhrmann denies there was a problem with his ending.
But details about Australia were a tightly kept secret until a month or two ago when hype about Australia went into overdrive.
Locally, Tourism Australia committed to a $50 million campaign, created by Luhrmann and based around the film.
Billboards featuring stills from the film have been erected around Hollywood, and the film got a rave review from Oprah Winfrey, one of the most influential people in the business.
“Our hearts are all swelling because, my God, it’s just the film we needed to see,” Winfrey said after watching a special preview of Australia.
“I have not been this excited about a movie since I don’t know when,” she said during the show devoted entirely to the movie and its stars Kidman and Jackman.
The Oscar buzz has already begun.
Jack Thompson has tipped the film to pick up at least two Oscar nominations for cinematography and costume design, while respected US film blogger Tom O’Neil said Luhrmann is overdue a win after being snubbed for Moulin Rouge!
“Baz Luhrmann is holding the biggest Oscar IOU of moderns times,” he told AFP.
“They owe this guy and if this movie measures up to his potential for greatness, the academy would love to heap recognition on him and make up for past oversights.”
The cast features a host of major Australian actors – Kidman, Jackman, Thompson, Bryan Brown, David Wenham, David Gulpilil, Ben Mendelsohn – as well as some likely stars of the future such as teenager Brandon Walters.
Luhrmann has been working around the clock to complete the film ahead of the premiere in Sydney, where Kidman, Jackman and co-stars will walk the red carpet.
Sydney’s George Street in the CBD will be closed, with thousands of fans expected to line the streets to catch a glimpse of the stars.
More than 3000 guests are invited to the premiere and there will be grandstand seating for 500 fans.
Two of the other filming locations – Darwin in the Northern Territory and the town of Bowen in Queensland – will hold simultaneous screenings.
Australia will be released nationally on November 26.