It’s been seven years since Baz Luhrmann had a movie (Moulin Rouge) in theatres. For a guy who was doing pretty well thanks to Romeo + Juliet, that’s quite a fallow period. Now, just as Australia is about to put his name back on the marquee, comes the sort of news no filmmaker wants to deal with.
Apparently a test screening of the new film, held in Australia, was disastrously received when the audience considered the ending too depressing. (Minor spoiler: it involves the death of a major character.)
And while Baz Luhrmann isn’t exactly held up as the poster child for ‘uncompromising artist’ he’s dedicated enough to creating a specific vision that there’s been much surprise that he changed the ending. Originally the suspicion was that Fox had pressured him into the change, but Anne Thompson reports that the decision was his. When over $100m is at stake, what decision could he be expected to make? The change is an ironic action given the downer endings of Luhrmann’s last two pictures. Guess the financial stakes didn’t seem so daunting then.
Regardless, the result stands. Oz’s troubled historical conflict between Empire and Aborigine: now 10% happier!
But there’s an upside for Luhrmann, which is likely to change our entire readership’s plans to see the film: Oprah heartily endorsed the picture in a show devoted entirely to the movie. But which cut did she see? And does it matter? The Book Club has shown that Oprah can propel even a massively downbeat tale (see: The Road) to best-seller status, and she’s gushing like one of Daniel Plainview’s wells over this movie. Her take is available on Oprah.com, if you can stomach it. I endured about 47 seconds.
If you don’t care about end spoilers, check out the two-tier release plan outlined by Jeff Wells. It’s a good idea; kind of an updated Clue rollout for the weepy set.