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Fury Road sequels in jeopardy as Miller and WB legal battle intensifies

3 days ago

George Miller spent years working on MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, working through all manner of production hell. But, the movie made it to theaters and became an instant smash, earning 10 Oscar nominations and winning six trophies. Though that's the kind of success sequels are born out of, a legal battle between Miller and studio Warner Bros. has put any more movies in jeopardy, and as the battle intensifies, the likelihood of them happening at all is dwindling.

Back in November, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Miller was suing WB for not paying his production company, Kennedy Miller Mitchell, a bonus amount of $7 million for coming in under the allotted budget of $157 million (they claim the final cost was $154 million). Now, details are starting to emerge from the WB side of the courtroom as the case will be heard in the Australian Supreme Court (after an attempt by WB to bring it to California).

The studio claims KMM is not entitled to their bonus, citing that the movie, in fact, went way over budget, coming in at $185 million. The suit from KMM says that WB did approve the added $31 million for the sake of adding new scenes (which included bringing back the main cast and shipping back vehicles), but that the amount was to be left off the net cost as the reshoots were at the studio’s request. WB claims otherwise, saying the $31 million added to the production was the result of a release date delay of 14 months.

Part of the claim from KMM, in relation to the reshoots, states that much of the additional work done on the movie came from WB constantly requesting changes that extended the shoot and caused any delays. This includes adding scenes at Immortan Joe’s citadel, a new ending, cutting old scenes and adding ones, etc. As well, the studio requested as many as 10 test screenings of the movie, and KMM claims they wanted changes done after each one.

In the counter-claim from WB, they say that any changes they requested were necessary to get the film done on time and for the desired budget. The studio also claims that production was exceeding the budget in large part due to extra costs that were not being approved by the studio.

Miller was speaking to students at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Australia recently and talked about the future of the franchise. Given how long production was taking on the first, Miller said he already wrote two more movies so they could get started on them ASAP. Given everything that’s going on, Miller told them he isn’t sure if those sequels are something we will get a chance to see.  "They're there but that's all I can say," he said. "That's in the future." In the meantime, he’s prepping a range of other scripts so he’s not just “sitting around grinding my teeth.”

In short, this is a messy situation. The relationship between Miller and WB - which extends to movies other than MAD MAX - is no doubt completely shot, and the likelihood of the two ever working again probably isn't an option right now. Seeing as how WB likely holds the rights to the making of any more MAD MAX films Miller doesn't really have an option to take a sequel to another studio. Due to this messiness, MAD MAX 5 and 6 may already have their places on the shelf of great movies that never were. 

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