The future of George Miller’s “Mad Max” franchise is in jeopardy as a court battle between the director’s production company, Kennedy Miller Mitchell, and Warner Bros. heats up in Australia’s Supreme Court of New South Wales. Miller’s company is suing the studio for unpaid earnings on “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The director spoke briefly about the lawsuit last November, but The Sydney Morning Herald has obtained new court documents that detail the battle between the two companies.
The lawsuit accuses Warner Bros. of acting in a “high-handed, insulting or reprehensible” manner and “destroying” its relationship with Kennedy Miller Mitchell by refusing to pay the production company a bonus fee for delivering the movie under budget. Kennedy Miller Mitchell claims it is eligible for $9 million after it delivered “Fury Road” under the agreed budget of $157 million. The production company says “Fury Road’s” final budget was $154.6 million, although Warner Bros. claims the film went way over budget and cost $185.1 million.
In a cross-lawsuit filed by Warner Bros., the studio accuses Kennedy Miller Mitchell of breaking contract over the film’s intended runtime and rating. Warner Bros. says Miller’s production company signed a contract to deliver a 100-minute movie with a PG-13 rating. “Fury Road” ended up running 120 minutes and earned an R rating from the MPAA.
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The lawsuit also mentions conflict between Kennedy Miller Mitchell and Warner Bros. over which scenes would be shot for the movie. The production company alleges Warner Bros. insisted Miller not shoot some of the scenes he had scripted, including those set in Immortan Joe’s Citadel. Kennedy Miller Mitchell accuses the studio of making a series of decisions that caused “substantial changes and delays” to the production, including cutting scenes and forcing re-shoots after seeing Miller’s rough cut.
“Fury’s Road” reshoots are another point of contention between the studio and the production company. Kennedy Miller Mitchell says Warner Bros. approved a $31 million plan to reshoot scenes for the movie and that the cost was to be excluded from the net cost of the movie. However, Warner Bros. says the company agreed to fund some of the additional filming and that it made changes without the studio’s approval that delayed production and raised the budget.
Another source of debate between the companies is the involvement of Brett Ratner’s Ratpac-Dune Entertainment. Kennedy Miller Mitchell claims Warner Bros. arranged for Ratpac-Dune to co-finance the movie despite being contractually required to offer the company the first opportunity to do so if it was required.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” was released in May 2015 to universal acclaim. The film ended up grossing $378 million worldwide and earned 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for Miller. The filmmaker has script plans already set for two additional sequels, one of which is focused on Charlize Theron’s Furiosa.
IndieWire has reached out to Miller’s representatives for further comment. Warner Bros. declined to comment on the lawsuit.