The production of “Mad Max: Fury Road” wasn’t just brutal on location while filming. In a new oral history of the iconic action film published by The New York Times, editor Margaret Sixel says post-production on “Fury Road” proved to be just as grueling, as she was forced to battle the studio over final cut. Sixel, who won the Oscar for Best Editing thanks to her work on “Fury Road,” remembers the studio pressuring her and director George Miller to deliver a movie under the 100-minute mark.
“There was this constant thing from the studio: ‘How much shorter is it?’ That’s all they wanted to know,” Sixel said. “I just got so sick of it. They were just obsessed with getting the film under 100 minutes, which I knew was impossible. It was an incredibly painful film to cut. I think the studio didn’t believe in it, so it was really difficult to keep going. Eventually George and I decided, ‘We’re just going to make the film we want to make, and if no one else likes it, that’s fine.’ And that last four months is when the film really came together.”
Miller put the battle for final cut into perspective by saying, “When someone is directing a film, they’re thinking about it every waking hour, and even processing it in their dreams. The problem is, if you’re a studio executive, you tend to think about it for 10 minutes on a Wednesday.”
The rocky post-production is part of the reason Miller has yet to make a follow-up to “Fury Road.” Miller’s production company, Kennedy Miller Mitchell, and Warner Bros. were locked in a legal battle for some time over the final cut of “Fury Road.” Kennedy Miller Mitchell filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. claiming it was eligible for $9 million after the company delivered “Fury Road” under the agreed budget of $157 million. Warner Bros. responded with its own lawsuit, alleging the production company broke contract over the film’s intended runtime and rating. According to Warner Bros., Kennedy Miller Mitchell agreed to make a 100-minute movie rated PG-13, but the production company instead delivered a 120-minute movie rated R.
Whatever tension existed between Warner Bros. and Miller’s production company seems to be cooling down. Variety reported in late March that Miller was moving ahead with his planned Furiosa spinoff movie and was even starting to meet with actresses like Anya Taylor-Joy over video chat to talk about the project. As for Sixel, she remains shocked such a turbulent production yielded such major financial and Oscar success.
“Half the time, I thought I was going to get fired off the film, and then I win an Oscar!” Sixel said to The Times. “How about that? We were just disappointed that George didn’t win, but basically, they were all his Oscars in a way.”
Head over to The New York Times’ website to read the “Fury Road” oral history in its entirety.