Fury Road: George Miller thought he was making a PG-13 movie

While Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is the only Mad Max movie to earn a PG-13 from the MPAA, that was the rating George Miller targeted with Fury Road.

fury road pg13

While George Miller’s Fury Road has been rightly celebrated as one of the greatest action movies of all time, its path to theaters back in 2015 was not easy. While the behind-the-scenes battles between stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron are legendary, they weren’t the only headaches Miller had to deal with while making his epic. As documented in the excellent book, “Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road” by Kyle Buchanan (buy it HERE), the biggest battle Miller had to fight was in post-production. The studio wanted the movie cut way down, with them notoriously demanding a PG-13 cut from Miller and his editor, Margaret Sixel (also his wife). 

Ironically, Miller wasn’t opposed to a PG-13, as that was the rating he had aimed for, and he was surprised the MPAA didn’t grant it. “I thought it was a PG-13 film,” said Miller. “I honestly did, because there was no nudity, there’re no curse worlds, there was no overt violence on humans, there was no blood. There were two or three films that ended up PG-13 that were on the border, and I thought we’d cover that.” 

Miller wasn’t opposed to that rating, having previously made Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, which nabbed a PG-13 rating, but was seen as quite tame by most fans, who consider it the worst movie of the saga. Even still, one can understand why Miller assumed a PG-13 was achievable.

According to interviews in the book, the main issue was that the masks the bad guys wore were “too scary”, and the studio wanted other cuts as well, and indeed, they made their own shorter cut of the film with a different mix team and musical score. “They wanted it shorter, and they wanted to take out anything that was too dubious,” said Miller. “They took out the Milking Meads at the beginning of the film. Moreover, the War Boy who commits suicide and says, ‘Witness me,’ they wanted that cut.”

Luckily, when the studio showed their alternate cut, it was a disaster, with the studio releasing him from his obligation to make the film PG-13. The result, as they say, was history, with the 120-minute film considered one of the most perfectly composed and efficiently edited movies in recent memory, with Sixel winning a much-deserved Oscar for Best Film Editing.

Do you think the R-rating for Fury Road was justified? Is it really all that much more violent than some of the Marvel/DC movies, or the last few James Bond movies? Let us know in the comments?

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.