Mad Max: The Wasteland – Will It Ever Happen?

Mad Max: The Wasteland – Will It Ever Happen?

With Furiosa earning mostly rave reviews from Cannes, what will become of the long-rumoured Mad Max: The Wasteland?

Back in 2010, it was reported that director George Miller would be shooting two new entries in his Mad Max franchise back-to-back: the sequel Mad Max: Fury Road and a follow-up called Furiosa. But things didn’t work out that way, and making Mad Max: Fury Road on its own proved to quite a struggle – a five month shoot in the deserts of Namibia, with two lead actors (Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky and Charlize Theron as Furiosa) who couldn’t stand each other. Miller didn’t let the grueling process put him off making more Mad Max movies, though. Immediately after the release of Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015, Miller announced that he had already written a screenplay and a novella of further stories… and Max himself would return in a film called Mad Max: The Wasteland. But nine years have passed, the Fury Road prequel Furiosa is now in theatres, and there’s still no word on whether or not Mad Max: The Wasteland will be moving forward. So let’s try to solve this mystery… Mad Max: The Wasteland – Will It Ever Happen?

MAD MAX LAWSUIT

There are a couple reasons why it has taken Miller nine long years to get back to the world of Max Rockatansky. First, he didn’t want to go straight back into the wasteland after making Mad Max: Fury Road. He wanted to make a different, smaller film first. That movie turned out to be Three Thousand Years of Longing, which didn’t get made and released until several years after Fury Road. Another thing slowing down the franchise’s progress is the fact that Miller filed a lawsuit against its home studio Warner Bros. Suing the studio for unpaid Fury Road earnings, he accused executives of behaving in a “high-handed, insulting or reprehensible” manner and destroying their relationship with his production company. Warner Bros. fired back that Miller shouldn’t receive those earnings because they had wanted a 100-minute, PG-13 movie, and he had delivered a 120-minute, R-rated movie. The lawsuit was filed in 2017 and appeared to be settled to Miller’s satisfaction in 2019, clearing the way for him to finally get around to making Furiosa after he was finished with Three Thousand Years of Longing.

STORY NOT READY

We now know that when Miller said he had a screenplay and a novella written, Furiosa was the screenplay. In fact, the Furiosa script was “virtually complete” before Fury Road even started filming. (Which must be why there was talk of making the movies back-to-back.) Within the novella is the foundation for Mad Max: The Wasteland – and it still needs to be completely figured out and then worked into a screenplay. As recently as 2022, Miller described the story as “still not fully evolved”. As for what exactly the Wasteland novella deals with, Miller told AV Club, “We also wrote, not a screenplay, but almost in novel form, Nico Lathouris and I, what happened to Max in that year before (the events of Mad Max: Fury Road), and that’s something that we’ll look at further down the track later.” Since the story is set “before”, Miller has confirmed that the Furiosa character is not involved.

It’s worth noting that Miller and Lathouris did craft another Mad story that was published as a two-part tie-in comic book when Fury Road was released. That story showed Max competing in a Thunderdome gladiator battle at Gastown to win a V8 engine for his car, then being asked by a mother to venture into the ruins of a city to save her young daughter from a group of cannibals called the Buzzards. It would need to be expanded, but that story could have served as the basis for a cool movie – and it would be interesting to see if anything from it makes its way into Mad Max: The Wasteland.

WOULD TOM HARDY PLAY MAX?

Director George Miller says the script for Furiosa was already written before Mad Max: Fury Road started filming 10 years ago.

The long delay between films does bring up the question, if Mad Max: The Wasteland does ever go into production, will Tom Hardy still be playing Max, or would he be replaced? Recasting doesn’t seem entirely out of the question, especially since Hardy replaced Mel Gibson in the role to begin with. Hardy was contracted to play the character in multiple films, but it’s not clear when that contract would expire. Despite the rough experience of working on Mad Max: Fury Road, Hardy is totally on board with the idea of coming back for a sequel, and even said it’s not a question of if he’ll make another Mad Max movie, it’s just a question of when. He told Collider, “I’m really just waiting for the call like, ‘All right, let’s get the leathers on and get back out there and do some more.’ It’s there. I’m just waiting for it and looking forward to it.” However, Miller might not be so keen, with him mentioning that Hardy had to be coaxed out of his trailer during Fury Road, which seems not to have endeared him to the director.

In fact, Hardy was already replaced in the role of Max for the character’s quick cameo in Furiosa. This cameo plays out in just one shot, with the character at a distance, and only lasts for a few seconds, but in those few seconds Max is played by Jacob Tomuri, who was Hardy’s stunt double during the production of Fury Road. It makes sense that Miller wouldn’t bring Hardy to the set for this one shot, and it’s not likely that he would have Tomuri play the lead in The Wasteland.

WILL GEORGE MILLER DIRECT IT?

It will be quite impressive if Miller does indeed return to the wasteland for Mad Max: The Wasteland, as the director – just like the rest of us – isn’t getting any younger. Miller turned 79 this year, which surely adds another degree of difficulty to shoots that are already massive undertakings. Of course, Richard Donner was still planning to make another Lethal Weapon movie before he passed away at the age of 91, so Miller might still have plenty of time left to do Mad Max: The Wasteland without issue. But if making these movies becomes too much of a burden, Miller has let it be known that he has three different directors in mind that he would like to see make movies set in the wasteland he created. He indicated to IGN that Guillermo del Toro is one of those directors.

Anya Taylor-Joy Furiosa

FURIOSA’S BOX OFFICE

After years of waiting, Furiosa has made its way to theatres – and now we have a new obstacle for Max to overcome, as the film had a disappointing opening weekend of $32 million at the domestic box office. The Hollywood Reporter says that Furiosa‘s weak numbers are diminishing hopes for Mad Max: The Wasteland. Will Warner Bros. take this as a sign that audiences aren’t interested in returning to the wasteland, or will they move forward with a new entry in the “Mad Max Saga” in hopes that a film focused on Max will do better than the Furiosa prequel?

Will Mad Max: The Wasteland ever happen? The truth is, we don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see what Warner Bros. wants, and if Miller and Lathouris are ever able get the story into its fully evolved state. For now, we’ll just have to take Miller and Hardy’s word for it: it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. In 2019, while waiting for the Warner Bros. lawsuit to run its course, Miller even went so far as to tell IndieWire that there’s an idea for another Max story beyond The Wasteland: “There are two stories, both involving Mad Max, and also a Furiosa story. We’re still solving, we’ve got to play out the Warners thing, it seems to be pretty clear that it’s going to happen.” For now, we keep hoping…

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/mad-max-the-wasteland-will-it-ever-happen/

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