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Going down under to shoot Alexander

Sydney, June 25 (AFP): Hollywood producer Dino De Laurentiis and director Baz Luhrman headed to the Australian outback today to scout locations for their epic Alexander the Great, public broadcaster ABC reported.

Luhrman, an Australian, wanted to shoot the film starring Nicole Kidman and Leonardo DiCaprio, as Alexander, in Morocco, but cancelled that plan after a string of terrorist bombings killed 41 people in the north African country last month.

Instead he and De Laurentiis went to the dusty outback town of Broken Hill in the far west of New South Wales state where production companies are hoping for a windfall.

Project coordinator Andrew Plumer told ABC it would be a milestone for Film Broken Hill, a local promotion company, if the town was chosen for the big budget film.

But he cautioned that there was still a lot of international competition to host the shoot.

Australia is reportedly also in the running to attract other sand-and-sandal epics that had planned to shoot in West Asia and Africa, including Gladiator 2, Tripoli and Oliver Stoneís rival production about Alexander the Great. Luhrmanís film will focus on the eight years Alexander spent in sieges and conquests across the Persian empire, Egypt and finally to India. Kidman will play Alexanderís mother.

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