Elvis director turning Nicole Kidman movie Australia into TV show

Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in Australia
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in Australia (Image credit: Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

This is a new iteration of a director’s cut. It has been reported that Baz Luhrmann, who currently has his latest movie Elvis playing in theaters, is reworking one of his previous movies, Australia, which starred Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, into a limited series that is being retitled as Faraway Downs. The new version is expected to debut in the winter of 2022 on Hulu in the US and Disney Plus in the UK (Star Plus in other international markets).

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Luhrmann is expanding his 2008 movie with footage shot during the original production and with a new ending and an updated soundtrack.

Australia starred Nicole Kidman as an Englishwoman who inherits an Australian ranch prior to World War II. She then forms special connections with a cattle drover, played by Hugh Jackman, and a bi-racial indigenous child named Nullah (Brandon Walters). The movie wasn’t overly well received, earning a 54% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, which classifies it as "Rotten," and a 53 on Metacritic, which is in the "Mixed" tier.

The new Faraway Downs limited series will follow the basic premise of Australia, told over six episodes. Luhrmann said of the forthcoming project in a statement: 

"I originally set out to take the notion of the sweeping, Gone With the Wind-style epic and turn it on its head — 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."

While we don’t know just how much new footage Luhrmann has that he’ll include in Faraway Downs (Australia’s theatrical cut was two hours and 45 minutes), the director had previously said he shot three different endings for the movie. Which one will audiences get in the limited series?

The idea of a director’s cut isn’t anything that new; perhaps the most famous instance is Ridley Scott’s numerous Blade Runner cuts. But to take a movie and rework it as a limited series seems like a novel idea. The closest thing we can think of right now is the new series Irma Vep, which sees Olivier Assayas remaking his 1996 movie of the same name as a TV series, but that is with an entirely new cast and updated storylines.

If you want to watch Australia before Faraway Downs arrives to see what the difference is going to be, it is currently streaming on HBO Max.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.