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21 Facts You Didn't Know About Baz Luhrmann’s “Strictly Ballroom"

"A life lived in fear is a life half lived."

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1. Strictly Ballroom was Baz Luhrmann's directorial debut.

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It was also the first film in his "Red Curtain Trilogy", followed by Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge!.

2. The film began life as an improvised play Baz directed and starred in during his time at NIDA, it had a $50 budget.

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3. Baz was inspired by the ballroom championships he competed in growing up.

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His mum was also a dance teacher, giving him ample inspiration for the play.

4. Luhrmann was invited to re-stage the show at the Czechoslovakian World Youth Drama Festival held in Bratislava in 1986. It won Best Production and Best Director there.

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5. A version of the stage show was seen by Ted Albert, the managing director of a music publishing company. Albert was the one who approached Luhrmann, believing the show had potential as a film.

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6. In 1990, production hit an unfortunate delay when Ted Albert died suddenly of a heart attack, before filming had completed.

It wasn't until his wife, Popsy, decided the film should be made in her husband's honour that production was able to continue. Popsy took over as executive producer, and the film is dedicated to her husband.
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It wasn't until his wife, Popsy, decided the film should be made in her husband's honour that production was able to continue. Popsy took over as executive producer, and the film is dedicated to her husband.

7. The film had been booked for a theatrical run in arthouse cinemas and a single mainstream screen but shortly before the film was released, it was pulled from the mainstream screen.

Luhrmann believed this to be the beginning of the end for the project, assuming no audiences would see the film without a mainstream screen.
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Luhrmann believed this to be the beginning of the end for the project, assuming no audiences would see the film without a mainstream screen.

8. The film was then invited to premiere at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Prix de la Jeunesse (Award of the Youth for Foreign Film).

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9. It's also said that the film received a 15-minute standing ovation after screening at the festival.

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10. The film had its Australian premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival, and was then released nationally. It ran in some cinemas for more than a year.

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11. Fran's house was one of the most expensive sets, because it had to be built near an existing railway.

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12. The version of "Love is in the Air" that played as the film's closing song became a top five hit on the Australian music charts.

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13. The big final scene was shot during the lunch break of a real ballroom dancing championship. Baz was only given an hour to complete the scene.

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14. As filming dragged on, people began to leave the set, so crew had to drape clothing over individual chairs to create the illusion of an audience.

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15. When the play was first performed, the character of Fran was actually called "Jenny Wallflower".

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16. In Japan, Strictly Ballroom is known as Dancing Hero.

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17. The film was nominated for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) at the Golden Globes in 1994.

It lost to Mrs. Doubtfire.
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It lost to Mrs. Doubtfire.

18. It also scored eight nominations and won three awards at the 1993 BAFTAs.

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19. Costumes required 5,000 hours of work, and two people worked over four weeks to embroider Scott's torero jacket worn in the finale.

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20. Strictly Ballroom went on to become one of the top ten highest-grossing Australian films at the domestic box office.

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21. Out of these top ten films, Lurhmann has directed four.

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The other three are Australia, Moulin Rouge!, and The Great Gatsby.