You’re Not the Only One Confused About This New Hulu Series
With metric tons of digital content being added to, removed from, and swapped between streaming platforms each month, you’d be forgiven if—like most of us—you assumed Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman’s new Hulu series Faraway Downs was a prequel to Australia. Guess what, homies? IT’S NOT.
I only have so much mental bandwidth to spare for streaming content, especially at the end of the year, when my interests are torn between catching up on movies and passively ingesting reality trash while playing Tears of the Kingdom (yes, I am still playing TotK, so what). Which is why my knowledge of Faraway Downs, the new Hulu series from Baz Luhrmann, was casual at best. As far as I can tell (i.e., based entirely on the featured image in the Hulu app), it stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, reprising their roles for a continuation of/prequel to Australia, the 2008 movie I still haven’t bothered to see because it seems long and it’s about … Australia. No offense, Aussies, but I just don’t feel compelled to watch an epic period drama starring the most famous Australians who aren’t named Crocodile Dundee, in a story about—checks Google—I’m sorry, CATTLE RANCHING?!
Anyway. I assumed some heavy digital airbrushing and a little reused footage was involved to make this a prequel, and I went about my life unconcerned with whatever is going on at Faraway Downs HQ. (I will say that Faraway Downs is a distinctly more Australian-sounding title than Australia.) Lo and behold, the internet has done the labor of educating my ignorant ass yet again. Not only is Faraway Downs not a prequel to Australia, it IS Australia.
To be fair (to me), it’s not as if any of the reporting on this series really led with “Baz Luhrmann recut his 15-year-old movie into six parts.” In his recent interview with CBS Mornings, the filmmaker explained that he wanted to “finish the story” he set out to tell in Australia, making Faraway Downs a director’s cut of sorts. When the trailer was released, many sites—including THR—touted the series as an “expansion” of Australia. Filmmakers don’t have a habit of retitling their projects for a director’s cut. Of course everyone is confused by this. As Leslie Mac points out in the above TikTok, this may very well have something to do with the WGA strike over the summer. With writers not writing new content, studios and streamers needed to find something to fill in the gaps.
It’s also not the only instance of a film being recut into a series for streaming this year. BlackBerry, Matt Johnson’s very good retelling of the making, selling, and folding of the eponymous smartphone, had a limited theatrical run in May. Just six months later, in early November, BlackBerry appeared on AMC and AMC+ as a three-part limited series (this version was also released on CBC in Johnson’s native Canada). Viewers can either watch the two-hour theatrical version or the slightly expanded three-part series which features additional footage. I can’t even get into what this sort of thing means for awards season, but I’m sure a knowledgeable prognosticator is yelling about it online somewhere.
What I am curious about is whether this is the start of a new trend that allows streaming platforms to repurpose movies into limited series, thereby enabling some sort of financial sorcery—not unlike David Zaslav turning completed films into tax write-offs for Warner Bros.-Discovery. Again, I am not knowledgeable enough about how this might work (corporate finances are haaaaard), but it certainly has the air of creative studio accounting.
(featured image: Hulu)
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