November 13, 2006
A snow storm, five cute penguins and a long line of celebrities caused havoc on Hollywood Boulevard when Australian director George Miller staged the world premiere for his new film, Happy Feet.
The $US85 million ($A111 million) animated musical comedy is a showcase of Australian acting and filmmaking talent.
Happy Feet, a sweet story about a colony of singing penguins in Antarctica, stars Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Hugo Weaving, Anthony LaPaglia and Magda Szubanski.
Despite warm early reviews, 61-year-old Miller, who launched Mel Gibson's international career in 1979 with Mad Max and made the world fall in love with pigs with 1995's Babe, was playing it cool before today's premiere at Hollywood's historic Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
"My celebration comes later," Miller said.
"Once I see it with a paying audience and see that they take something from the movie, I'll know whether to celebrate."
Today's premiere was grand even by Hollywood standards, with the usual red carpet switched to ice white and wind machines blowing fake snow in the air.
Five penguins, enticed by an animal trainer with a bucket of fish, waddled down the white carpet and posed, almost on cue, for the world's media.
Kidman, who has been lying low since husband Keith Urban entered re-hab, and Jackman were expected to attend the premiere, but were late cancellations.
Comedian Robin Williams, who voiced Lovelace the Guru, a smooth-talking penguin with a love for females, ran amok.
Williams said he was a fan of Miller's work since he first watched Mad Max nearly 30 years ago.
"I thought, 'Well, if he's worked with Mel, he can try me'," Williams joked.
"George is the sweetest man,"
"He's like Ghandi in a suit."
Elijah Wood voices the clumsy Mumble, the only penguin in the colony that can't sing.
Instead, Mumble has a talent for dance which leads him to being ostracised.
"I don't know what it is about me and Southern Hemisphere directors," Wood, who spent three years in New Zealand shooting Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, said.
Mumble's parents are voiced by Kidman and Jackman, who both sing in the film.
Weaving voices the grumpy penguin, Noah the Elder, who is disturbed by Mumble's dancing, and Szubanski gets plenty of laughs as Miss Viola, a strict singing teacher.
Happy Feet, which opens in Australian cinemas on Boxing Day, is a landmark film for Australia as it is the nation's first 3D animated feature film.
Sydney company Animal Logic was responsible for the film's animation and Australian film production company Village Roadshow funded the project in conjunction with Hollywood studio, Warner Bros.