In an age of tired reboots and dull four-quadrant blockbusters, Mad Max: Fury Road was a rarity. The 2015 film, the fourth in director George Millers dystopian franchise, was a high-octane thrill that both took in hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office and earned high critical praise, sweeping up six Oscars by the end of the awards season. Talks of another film quickly began taking shape, with star Charlize Theron confirming that two more Mad Max scripts were ready to go. “They were written as backstories to Maxs character and to Furiosas character,” she told Variety last July, adding fuel to the fan fire. But according to a new report in The Sydney Herald, the franchise has become so embroiled in a legal battle that its now unclear when, if ever, well get the fifth and sixth installments of the series.
Per the Herald, Miller is stuck in a court battle with Warner Bros. after suing the studio over unpaid earnings. His production company, Kennedy Miller Mitchell, has filed a suit in the Supreme Court of New South Wales in Australia, alleging that the studio acted in a “high-handed, insulting, or reprehensible” manner. The company claims that after “destroying” its trust, Warner Bros. failed to pay a bonus for wrapping the movie under budget and also breached a co-financing agreement, the Herald notes. One of the main issues is that Warner Bros. and Kennedy Miller Mitchell apparently disagree on the films final net cost ($185.1 million vs. $154.6 million, respectively), which could mean the difference between the production company earning a $9 million bonus or no bonus at all.
Creative differences have also caused friction. The production company claims that Warner Bros. insisted on a new ending and on cutting out certain scenes from the script, and that the studio made decisions that caused “substantial changes and delays” to the film. In addition, the production company claims that the studio asked for 10 screenings of the film and made requests for changes after each one. The company also claims that it was unaware that RatPac-Dune Entertainment was brought on as a co-financier, only learning this when Steve Mnuchin, now the U.S. secretary of the Treasury, was given an executive-producer credit.
Warner Bros. has allegations of its own. In a cross-claim, according to the Herald, the studio says that production on Fury Road “significantly exceeded the approved budget,” which ballooned to $185.1 million, partially due to changes that did not get the studios approval. Warner Bros. also claims that the films release date was delayed by 14 months, and that it requested, but did not demand, a different ending.
So, thats where we are now: wading in muddy legal waters that may drown the future of this franchise altogether. It lives, it dies, it lives again—or so we can only hope.
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