Mad Max: Fury Road was years in the making, with a notoriously troubled production process that suffered massive delays, weather issues, and two stars that didn’t get along. But when Fury Road was released, it seemed like maybe all the trouble was worth it. In 2015, director George Miller unleashed a masterpiece of action filmmaking on an unsuspecting public, and the film not only garnered wildly positive reviews and nearly $400 million at the worldwide box office, but it also won six Oscars.
That’s the kind of success that leads to sequels, and indeed Fury Road took so long to put together that Miller went ahead and wrote scripts for two additional films while getting the Tom Hardy/Charlize Theron-fronted film made. In the ensuing years both Theron and Hardy have stated their desire to reprise their roles and Miller has also seemed interested in continuing his story, but now it looks like those Mad Max: Fury Road sequels may never actually happen.
Last November, George 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., meanwhile, claims the film did go over budget, and thus Miller is not entitled to a bonus after all.
Warner Bros. tried to get the lawsuit moved out of Australia, but in November the Aussie Supreme Court ruled that the case would stay Down Under. Now, per the Sydney Morning Herald, new court filings shed some light on exactly what’s going on, and how this makes Fury Road sequels unlikely to happen.
Miller’s production company claims that Fury Road came in at a cost of $154.6 million, while Warner Bros. claims the film cost $185.1 million. In the court filings, Miller’s company alleges that WB insisted certain scenes in the script not be shot, with Miller instead directed to add new scenes and a 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.
In a counter-filing, Warner Bros. says Fury Road “significantly exceeded the approved budget,” with the extra costs caused largely by Miller’s production company. WB also claims they merely suggested an alternative ending rather than insisting on it, and that Miller’s company agreed to fund some of the additional filming in 2013.
The filing notes that since Warner Bros. “destroyed” the relationship of trust by allegedly refusing to pay Miller his bonus, they were “unable to work together on any future installments.”
Per the Sydney Morning Herald, Miller told students at NIDA during a talk he didn’t know if the sequels would ever happen, but added that he’s been working on getting a range of scripts ready to shoot in the interim so it’s not like he’s sitting idly by. However, the fact that Miller is currently engaged in a heated lawsuit with Warner Bros. probably means you can take him off your director wishlist for any and all DC movies in the near future.
As for the likelihood of the Fury Road sequels getting off the ground, it all depends on how quickly this lawsuit will be handled and which way it goes down. It’s hard not to think there will be some bad blood on both sides either way, so from my perspective it doesn’t seem all that likely that Miller and Warner Bros. will be working together again anytime soon, on Fury Road or anything else.
Let’s just hope Miller gets behind the camera on a live-action film sooner than the 17-year gap between Babe: Pig in the City and Fury Road.