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Fox’s tour de force

News Corp. unveils Oz walking trip through pix

SYDNEY — Take a trip on the Titanic and survive. Feel what it might be like to get inside the skin of Bart and Homer Simpson. And rub shoulders with Mrs Doubtfire, Crocodile Dundee and Romeo’s Juliet.

These are among the attractions that the local public and tourists can experience when the Fox Studios Australia tour — dubbed Backlot — opens Nov. 8 at Fox’s Sydney facility. The tour and the Bent Street entertainment precinct of shops and restaurants are the final stages of the FSA development, built at a cost of more than A$350 million ($227 million) as a co-venture of News Corp. and developer Lend Lease.

The six soundstages officially opened in May 1998 and have housed “Babe: Pig in the City,” “The Matrix” and “Mission: Impossible II.”

Currently lensing there is Baz Luhrmann’s Fox musical “Moulin Rouge.” Episode II of George Lucas’ “Star Wars” series is due to roll there next year.

Fox execs unveiled today (Tuesday U.S. time) all the elements of Backlot — a self-guided walking tour they say could take four to five hours to enjoy in full — and announced an Academy Awards-style gala as a Nov. 7 curtain-raiser.

Among the tour’s attractions:

  • “Titanic — The Experience,” where special effects take an audience of film “extras” through a moving (literally) recreation of the liner’s last moments, using design materials and props from James Cameron’s epic.

  • “Lights! Camera! Chaos!,” a singing, dancing live show conceived and directed by legit helmer Barrie Kosky and produced by Luhrmann’s Bazmark Live banner. Features include Flying Fox Films, a studio “run” by Australian animals, and what’s touted as the most expensive film ever made, “Space — The Musical.”

  • “Star Dressing Room,” a kaleidoscope of costume, character, makeup and Fox characters such as Mrs Doubtfire, Crocodile Dundee, Sigourney Weaver’s “Alien” persona and Claire Danes’ Juliet.

  • “The TV Tour,” which will show sets from Aussie series “Water Rats” and “Home and Away” plus “The X-Files” and “NYPD Blue.” Auds also will catch the action on soundstages 5 and 6.

  • “Sound Stage,” a series of audio experiences that demonstrate the importance of sound to filmmaking. People will trigger sound effects through light beams, see foley artists at work, experience an “audio movie” in the blackness of the Dark Theater and try their hand at the sound technician’s craft in the Vox theater.

  • “The Babe Set,” which was used for George Miller’s “Babe: Pig in the City.”

  • “The Simpsons Down Under,” where auds can experience the world of Homer and Bart using motion capture technology (suits that capture actors’ movements via computerized sensors).

  • “The Hall of Cool Stuff,” an exhibition space featuring props, sets and costumes from many Fox productions.

FSA chief exec Kim Williams said: “The Fox Studios Backlot is a unique development which will inform, amuse, amaze and entertain in a way people have never experienced before. It delivers to the public an authentic connection with film and television in the most relevant context there is — a working film and TV studio.”

News Corp. president and chief operating officer Peter Chernin vowed: “It will give people the sense they are participating in the movie experience. People will know what it’s like to be part of making a movie, but above all it will reinforce the awe, whimsy and sheer creativity (that) film and television are all about.”

The Backlot capacity is 8,000 attendees per day, so FSA will be urging people to book tickets, which will be priced at about $25 for adults and $18 for children, kids under 6 free. The tour will employ nearly 700 people, with another 200 engaged by the studios. A total of 600 people are being hired by the Bent Street businesses.