‘Australia’ risks oversaturation

Jackman and Kidman starrer plunges into advertising

Can there be such a thing as too much publicity?

Twentieth Century Fox’s ebullient tubthumping of its Nicole KidmanHugh Jackman romancer “Australia” has some exhibs Down Under worried that the media saturation might dampen enthusiasm.

Fox is backing Baz Luhrmann‘s first pic in five years with the biggest P&A campaign ever seen in Oz and has promised its widest rollout ever. It’s also said publicly “Australia” could become the highest-grossing pic ever in the territory, surpassing even the $39.4 million achieved by “Titanic.”

Studio detailed its own excellence in a PowerPoint presentation dubbed “The Fox Factor” at the recent Australian Intl. Movie Convention.

A bevy of local congloms — brewer Coopers, soft-drink maker Kirks, perfumery Natio, telco Telstra BigPond, Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd., the Nine net, winery Jacob’s Creek and airline Qantas — are plugging “Australia” in the nation’s biggest campaign since Sydney’s 2000 Olympics. Quantas even has period-appropriate product placement in the 1930s Outback love story. Rural outfitter RM Williams supplied a personal on-set dresser for Luhrmann .

Somehow the helmer also found time to devise a complementary $28 million ad campaign for Tourism Australia, featuring the film’s Aboriginal child star Brandon Walters inviting stressed global execs to “come walkabout.”

Even as some Fox execs privately express concern about the pic’s playability outside of Oz, Luhrmann’s admission last week that he’d been campaigning all year to delay the pic’s release didn’t help assuage worries.

”As far as how the story evolution is going, we’re on track with that work,” he said. “But the finishing work — can the visual effects be done? can we mix? — we’re playing it very close to the wire.”