Since launching at Cannes this spring, to rhapsodic reviews and, yes, Oscar buzz, the question about “Mad Max: Fury Road” on nearly every mind has been, “When do we get another one?” Luckily, director George Miller is no recluse, and he’s been dropping hints for months; in fact, he promised “more ‘Max’ to come” in his very first tweet, on May 17, just two days after “Fury Road” hit theaters. Read our brief guide to the future of the franchise:
Next up: “Mad Max: The Wasteland”
Thirty years after Miller’s original trilogy, starring Mel Gibson as Max Rockatansky—”Mad Max” (1979), “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrrior” (1981), and “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” (1985)—”Fury Road” revived Miller’s kinetic, extraordinarily violent desert universe. As the director told podcast host Jeff Goldsmith in May, the next film in the series is called “Mad Max: The Wasteland”—at least for now. In an interview with Digital Spy, published yesterday, Miller described “Wasteland” as “just a working title.” Though few details have emerged about the project so far, Miller recently revealed to TopGear.com that the decade-long development process for “Fury Road,” written with Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris, resulted in a bunch of unused material. (In a tale reminiscent of “Apocalypse Now,” “Fury Road” originally fell victim to 9/11, the collapse of the Australian dollar, and once-in-a-generation rains in the Australian Outback.)
“[I]n this process, we had dug down deep into the backstory, not only of the characters, but of every vehicle. How the steering wheels became religious artifacts and things like that,” Miller told TopGear. “So we ended up with two scripts, without really trying.”
Tom Hardy Is In
Even before the theatrical release of “Fury Road,” Hardy, who assumed Gibson’s role as Max, told Esquire U.K. that he’d signed on for three further “Mad Max” movies—with the caveat that poor box-office receipts could stop the planned quadrilogy in its tracks. (“Inevitably, it’s a business,” Hardy said.) Though no “Jurassic World,” now past $1.6 billion in worldwide grosses, “Fury Road” performed respectably enough, taking in more than $350 million worldwide from an estimated $150 million budget. Though Warner Bros. has yet to confirm “Wasteland”—as of his conversation with TopGear, published Oct. 2, Miller and the studio were still in talks—it stands to reason that the studio should want to continue its experiment in auteurist action-adventure, especially if “Fury Road” shows the expected strength in the crafts and technical categories at the Oscars. (Our own Anne Thompson currently places “Fury Road” among the frontrunners for a Best Picture nod as well.)
Charlize Theron Is (Mostly) Out
As for Theron, whose ferocious turn as Imperator Furiosa launched a thousand “Is ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Feminist?” think pieces, it seems that her role in any “Fury Road” follow-ups will be minor, at best. “She’s not in the ‘Mad Max’
[sequel] story, but in one of the stories there’s an interaction
between [Max and Furiosa],” Miller said to Digital Spy. “I can’t really say more than that because
it’s still in progress.”
Of course, with “Wasteland” still in development, and any subsequent films contingent on the franchise’s continued box-office success, this state of affairs may change. But as of her August interview with USA Today, Theron hadn’t even heard of the project, much less signed on to reprise her role as the anti-patriarchal warrior.
Miller Is In No Rush
In an extensive, wide-ranging conversation with Empire, posted yesterday, Miller seemed ready to savor the “gratifying” experience of resonating with audiences, and after the hot, dusty, eight-month shoot for “Fury Road,” the director wants to press pause on “Mad Max” for a time to pursue a very different sort of project. We all too easily forget that Miller has a softer side—he helmed “The Witches of Eastwick” (1987), “Lorenzo’s Oil” (1992), “Babe: Pig in the City” (1998), and two “Happy Feet” movies (2006, 2011)—and he suggested to Digital Spy that his next turn behind the camera, before “Wasteland” comes to fruition, will be more in this vein. “I hope the next film I make is a very small without any special effects and not many stunts.” After the critical and commercial triumph of “Fury Road,” he deserves a break.