2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road was met with incredible success, arguably the holy trifecta in Hollywood: box office success, critical acclaim, and eventually picking up multiple Academy Awards. What made it even more impressive was the development hell that preceded it, which included massive delays, weather issues and two stars that didn’t get along.
The success of Fury Road made a sequel inevitable – and production took so long that director George Miller actually wrote two follow up films before the first one was even completed – and this time around, Miller was probably hoping to avoid the kind of issues that delayed Fury Road for so long. It looks like that was wishful thinking.
Last November, Miller and his production company Kennedy Miller Mitchell filed a suit against Warner Bros. alleging that the company reneged on paying him a $7 million bonus for bringing Fury Road in under a budget of $157 million. Warner Bros. claims the film did in fact go over budget, and thus Miller is not entitled to a bonus at all.
KMM claims that the film came in at a cost of $154.6 million, while WB claims it cost $185.1 million. In the court case that is taking place in Australia, KMM alleges that WB insisted certain scenes in the script not be shot, with Miller instead told to add new scenes and a brand new ending.
Additionally, Miller’s company notes that WB later approved a plan to shoot new scenes at a cost of $31 million, but that these costs were to be excluded from the final cost of the movie owing to the fact that the reshoots were a necessity borne out of WB’s meddling.
Warner Bros. counter filed, claiming the film “significantly exceeded the approved budget”, with the extra costs being caused by KMM, and they also stated that they merely suggested an alternative ending rather than insisting upon it, and that Miller’s company agreed to fund a portion of the additional filming back in 2013.
Obviously, this is a mess, and it means that the Fury Road sequels are in doubt, or will at least be delayed until this lawsuit is in the rear view mirror, and even then it will depend on the outcome. It seems highly unlikely right now that the relationship between Miller and Warner Bros. will be fixed anytime soon.
Miller reportedly told students during a talk that he didn’t know if the sequels will ever happen, but added that he’s been working on getting a range of scripts ready to shoot in the meantime. It also means that the many fans who wished for Miller to take the helm of a DC film – DC is owned by Warner Bros. – are going to be very disappointed.
Miller is no stranger to long delays between films – his last film before Fury Road was Babe: Pig In The City 17 years prior – and will be hoping a gap like that doesn’t happen again. But unfortunately we can probably temper our expectations of seeing Mad Max and Furiosa back together any time soon.