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‘Australia’ move triggers Oz anger

Luhrmann film to open one day before Bond

GOLD COAST, Australia — Fox’s decision to move “Australia’s” release date Down Under to Nov. 26 has generated anger in Oz where Sony had already pegged James Bond “Quantum of Solace” for the following day.

Most exhibs and distribs at the annual Australian Intl. Movie Convention in Queensland say the decision will hit the box office.

“It’s suicide that the two major movies of the quarter [will] go out,” so close to one another, said Kieren Dell, owner of the five-site Majestic cinemas loop in regional New South Wales.

“Australia’s” release date made sense in the U.S. because it coincides with the Thanksgiving Holiday, Dell said. “But it doesn’t factor Australia into it.”

Sony topper Stephen Basil-Jones told the audience for the Sony presentation at the confab that Fox’s decision last week, 12-weeks from release, was “predatory.” “It benefits no-one, it’s cast a nasty cloud over the industry,” he said.

Exhibbers expect Sony will bow to pressure and release “Quantum” earlier but Basil-Jones said that would not be that easy.

Sony chose Nov. 27 for what will be its biggest pic this year because date worked exceptionally well for “Casino Royale” in 2006 and because it would not cannibalize Fox’s original plans for “Australia.”

Marketing plans, which include a tour by Daniel Craig, might not be easily changed.

Including these two, biz had five pics spread from mid-November through mid December — “High School Musical 3,” “Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince” and “Madagascar 2” release the first three weeks of December.

Fox has high hopes for the Baz Luhrmann romantic epic starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, which rolls out internationally at Christmas.

Exhibbers were buzzing after Jackman gave a half-hour tubthump to “Australia” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” at Fox’s confab presentation on Tuesday, before the Sony presentation.

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