Mention to any Sydneysider the name ‘Moore Park’, and they’ll give you a filthy look. Then they will remember the Sydney Showground, but most importantly the Royal Easter Show.
The Showground had a significant history, having opened in 1882 and held many public events and activities such as World Series Cricket, Harness racing, to concerts of local and international acts. In 1997, News Corporation aka 20th Century Fox forked over some serious millions to lease a chunk of the Showground to turn it into a bit of a theme / entertainment park. The NSW Government accepted, on the condition that they take out a 99 year contract and not have any theme park rides on the property. In 1995, the 32 acre block of land became the Fox Studios Australia movie studio, with The Backlot being a small theme park containing an interactive motion capture experience with The Simpsons, and a standing simulation of Titanic the film.
In 1999, the Fox Studios grand opening was broadcast on Channel 9, with the ‘who’s who’ of Australian Television, Stage and Screen in attendance. Watch Marcia Hines, David Campbell, Kylie Minogue, Tina Arena, Kate Ceberano, Jon Stevens and Hugh Jackman perform their hearts out, highlighting silver screen antics from the past and present (You’ll notice Jackman a little hairy in the facial department – he’s filming the first X-Men movie around the time) – even a special appearance by Star Wars‘ very own C-3PO and R2-D2.
Heavily relying on FOX’s blockbuster hits Titanic and Romeo + Juliet, the song and dance displays don’t cease to entertain. But hey, if you can draw the attention of Hollywood stars Michael Douglas, Jeremy Irons and Shirley Jones, then you’re onto a winner.
While the Backlot shut down in 2001 due to low attendance and lacklustre facilities, it was restructured and renamed to the Entertainment Quarter, expanding the retail and restaurant experience, while still maintaining the movie studio presence. Many blockbuster films have been produced on the land, such as The Matrix trilogy, Dark City, Star Wars Episodes II and III, and many others.
If you want to check out the history of the Backlot, check out Visit Sydney Australia‘s site.