Australia director Baz Luhrmann has described the frenetic last-minute editing process of his film to The Australian‘s Christine Jackman thusly: “We always thought it was extremely precarious. We’re going to give it our all and at the moment 11.26 is an absolutely real date. But I would not be truthful if I didn’t say it’s a little like landing a jumbo jet on an aircraft carrier in a storm.”

Jackman likens Luhrmann’s situation to “living in a mental asylum, and the clock is ticking.

“Across the globe in another time zone, studio executives are chewing their nails as they fret about bottom lines and box-office takes, for Luhrmann’s latest project, the somewhat cheekily titled Australia, is already setting the sorts of records that make Hollywood’s money men nervous.

“The longest shoot in 20th Century Fox’s formidable history of movie-making. The most expensive Australian film ever made.

“With an estimated budget of $130 million and rising, the alarm bells must be starting to sound as shrill as the ker-ching! of a thousand cash registers.

“Consider this: if Australia runs close to the 170 minutes that has been reported in the media, Luhrmann’s production company Bazmark will have spent roughly three-quarters of a million dollars of other people’s money for every minute of screen time. Ker-ching!

“But even that’s a big if, and therein lies the real problem. Because, with its much-vaunted release date just weeks away, on November 26, nobody has seen a final print of the film. Why? Because one doesn’t exist.”