Coming off near universally positive reviews, Mad Max: Fury Road had a solid opening weekend, but it wasn’t quite the stratosphere-breaking number that some were hoping. Pitch Perfect 2 was always going to win the weekend given its PG-13 rating, broad fanbase, and the fact that it’s a female-led movie marketed to female moviegoers (shocker: when Hollywood decides to make them, these movies do well!), but with a reported $150 million budget, some see Fury Road’s $44 million opening as disappointing. Why? Because they want a sequel, of course.
Director George Miller hasn’t been shy about the fact that he’s planned more than one new Mad Max movie, previously confirming that he’s written the follow-ups. Speaking on The Q&A Podcast with Jeff Goldsmith (via The Playlist), Miller went one further and confirmed that the Fury Road follow-up is titled Mad Max: The Wasteland:
“We’ve got one screenplay and a novella. It happened because with the delays [on Fury Road] and writing all the backstories, they just expanded.”
Indeed Miller seems keen on continuing this franchise, but that will depend on a couple of factors. First of all is box office, seeing as how Miller’s way of making these movies (ie. the way that ends in a masterpiece) isn’t cheap. For an R-rated movie Fury Road is doing fine and should have legs, but we’ll have to see how it continues over the next few weeks. But hey, if Pacific Rim’s box office was enough to warrant a sequel, Fury Road shouldn’t have too much of a problem.
The other factor is the actors. It’s no secret that Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy butted heads on set, and indeed Theron confirmed to Esquire that it was a tough shoot:
“We fuckin’ went at it, yeah. And on other days, he and George [Miller, the director] went at it. It was the isolation, and the fact that we were stuck in a rig for the entire shoot. We shot a war movie on a moving truck — there’s very little green screen. It was like a family road trip that just never went anywhere. We never got anywhere. We just drove. We drove into nothingness, and that was maddening sometimes. And it’s material that’s really frightening — we didn’t have a script. Tom and I are actors who take our jobs seriously. Both of us want to please the directors we work with, and when you don’t know if you can deliver on that, it’s a frightening place to be — and for Tom more than me, because he was stepping into big shoes.”
Theron has said previously that she’s not crazy about returning given how grueling a shoot Fury Road was. Action sequences aren’t fun to shoot, and when you consider that Fury Road is nothing but action sequences, it becomes a really tough production for an actor. Of course The Wasteland could be more Max-centric, so it’s also possible Furiosa doesn’t return, but that’d be a major bummer. There’s also the fact that it took Miller three years from the start of production to release to make Fury Road, so would Warner Bros. be willing to wait that long?
Personally, I’m fine either way. If Miller gets to make another Mad Max movie, great. If he doesn’t, we’re left with an impeccable masterwork of cinema. It’s win-win as far as I’m concerned, but hopefully we hear a more solid word in the coming weeks.