December 03, 2007 12:00am

THE epic $230m World War II TV mini-series The Pacific, being shot in Australia, is exceeding all expectations, according to executive producer Tom Hanks.

Hanks and co-executive producer Steven Spielberg have been blown away by the early footage of the mini-series, which will be the most expensive ever made.

Filming has moved to Melbourne after wrapping up around Port Douglas.

"What I have seen so far has really been quite magnificent," Hanks said in Los Angeles.

The Pacific is one of the most ambitious projects in TV history.

The 10-episode series follows three US Marines fighting with the Allies against Japan in World War II.

The project is so extravagant, audiences will not see it until 2009.

"We're about halfway done," said Hanks, who won back-to-back best acting Oscars in the 1990s with Philadelphia and Forrest Gump.

"It is a monster of a shoot. We have 10 episodes and each episode has about 27 days of principal photography.

"We have a huge cast.

"The logistics of it alone are monstrous."

Hanks and Spielberg combined to produce another monumental WWII TV mini-series, Band of Brothers, in 2001, which dominated the Emmys and other awards ceremonies that year.

Hanks said The Pacific would have a darker edge.

"We have had to go to a much deeper and darker place on this otherwise we're wasting our time."

The cast and crew are largely Australian, with actors including Bill Hunter, Gary Sweet and Isabel Lucas.