The people of Kununurra will no longer have to charter their own helicopter to get to a premiere screening of Baz Luhrmann's movie Australia. Community representatives were angered yesterday by an apparent snub from the film's producers, who announced premiere screenings in locations where the movie was filmed - Sydney, Darwin and Bowen in Queensland - but not Kununurra. The people of the Kimberley town so passionately wanted to be included in the November 18 premiere programme they were considering footing the bill to fly the film from Darwin to Kununurra. But this morning Twentieth Century Fox Film Distributors announced they would hold a special Kununurra invite-only screening of the film, in their only open air cinema, much of which was filmed in and around the town.
Australia will now be simultaneously premiered at the four Australian locations featured in the epic, including a star-studded event in Sydney. The WA showing will take place at the only cinema in the East Kimberley town, Kununurra Picture Gardens. Managing Director of 20th Century Fox Australia Marcos Oliveira cited logistical problems as the reason why a screening in Kununurra was not confirmed at the same time as the other locations. The premiere date is during the wet season, and the only cinema available is an outdoor one.
"It was always an ambitious plan to stage simultaneous screening events in the four principal shooting locations for the film, and having addressed the logistical challenges over the last week, we are delighted to be able to finally confirm that the people of Kununurra will join Darwin, Bowen and Sydney in celebrating this very important film on the 18th November," he said.
The East Kimberley region, where Kununurra is situated, plays a prominent role in the film. Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman's characters are filmed in and around a homestead located in the area, and the natural beauty of the Kimberley red earth and water holes feature prominently.
People from the town and surrounding areas who played a part in making the film will be invited to the screening, including local Aboriginal elders and traditional owners of the land. They will be among the first people in the world to see the film.
"We are going to have big party under the stars in the picture garden," Kununurra Visitor's Centre manager Narelle Brook said.
"Everyone is really excited about it, we're all looking forward to making it all happen and having the people that played a part in the movie and assisted in the making of it see it on the night."
The event, which will likely require black tie dress, will be one of the biggest celebrations ever seen on Kununurra's social calendar.
Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley CEO Peter Stubbs said the community was grateful to be included in the plans to celebrate the movie's launch.
Perth-based WA VIPs will also be invited, with the guest list currently being worked on by organisers.
The movie launches nationally on November 26, and the Kununurra community will have access to a two-week season at the outdoor cinema despite the wet season threat.
Australia is an epic and romantic action adventure, set in the country on the brink of World War II. When an English aristocrat played by Nicole Kidman travels to the faraway continent, she meets a cattle-drover, played by Hugh Jackman, and an enchanting Aboriginal child, played by newcomer Brandon Walters.
The three join forces to drive a herd of cattle across hundreds of miles of the world's most beautiful and unforgiving terrain, only to face the bombing of the city of Darwin by the Japanese forces that attacked Pearl Harbor.