Is Mad Max: Fury Road doomed?

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After years of shoots and reshoots, why is the troubled Mad Max reboot still awaiting release?

Production problems are not unheard of in Hollywood – there have been some infamous films over the years that were doomed well before they hit theatres. The most infamous has to be Waterworld, the Kevin Costner ‘waterpocalypse’ picture that suffered budget issues, script issues, and disagreements between star Kevin Costner and director Kevin Reynolds. Upon release, the film was panned by critics and, while it made a healthy number at the box office, it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for the bloated budget, a budget which made it the most expensive film at the time.

The first release date of Mad Max: Fury Road was 2013. Then it was this year. As of now, IMDb lists the release date as 2015

And of course there was the failed Terry Gilliam Don Quixote picture, whose documentary about the doomed production – Lost in La Mancha – was the only footage to ever be released from the shoot. More recently there was World War Z, the global zombie thriller starring Brad Pitt. After years of rewrites and reshoots, as well as a reported feud between Pitt and director Marc Forster over the direction of the story, World War Z was released and, again, met with general disinterest when all was said and done. Pitt’s own disinterest in the film could be seen in his flat performance.

Which brings us to Mad Max: Fury Road. I remember hearing about a fourth Mad Max film when I was still in college ten years ago. Turns out a fourth Mad Max movie has been in discussion of some sort ever since Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome was released in 1985. Back then, Mel Gibson was set to reprise his role. Needless to say, Gibson’s star has since fallen dramatically, so the decision to start fresh with a new cast made sense. Yet here we are, at least ten years later, and still no film. The first release date of this new version of the film – now a reboot – was 2013. Then it was this year. As of now, IMDb lists the release date as 2015. Judging by recent events, it will be a miracle if Mad Max: Fury Road is ever be released. And if it does, the quality on the screen will be fascinating to see. History is not in its corner.

mad max fury road

Tom Hardy has been given the keys to the Mad Max cruiser this time, but things have not gone well since the start. Prior to Hardy’s attachment to the project, 9/11 caused several issues with travel and shipping to the Australian Outback. There was also the rumour that flowers – yes, flowers – delayed production. Out-of-season flowers in Australia changed the landscape to the point of production being shut down. Fast forward to the last few years – in 2012, George Miller, who directed the previous Mad Max films and remains dedicated to a fourth instalment while still trying his best to get the film to audiences, took the production to Namibia, Africa, which will stand in for the familiar Outback surroundings.

Fury Road’s budget, which was reportedly at $100-$125 million, has ballooned north of that number into untold amounts

Principal photography on the film was reportedly completed in 2012, although that shooting schedule ran several days over as well. But the film has since undergone reshoots, beginning back in Sydney. All the while the budget, which was allotted anywhere between $100-$125 million, has ballooned north of that number into untold amounts. The reshoots, demanded by Warner Bros brass in this case, are never a good sign, and evidence that the studio is not happy with what has been filmed thus far. This will send the budget even farther north.

Budgetary issues are commonplace with large tentpole films, which Mad Max most certainly will be – that is, if it ever sees the light of day. Reshoots demanded in this way are something much more damaging for the publicity and outlook of the film: The whole myriad of production mishaps and reshoots have pushed Mad Max out to its current 2015 release date, but more recent rumours flying around the Hollywood mills suggests yet another, more troubling issue that the film might not be able to work around.

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mad max fury road tom hardy

Radar online and gossip sites have reported a beef between Tom Hardy, the film’s star, and co-star Charlize Theron (who has gone so far as to shave her head for the role during the initial production, and once more for reshoots, something which apparently riled the star). When the Warner Bros rep flew to Namibia, the rumour, according to Radar, was that Hardy and Theron were not speaking to each other because Theron found Hardy “weird and scary”. She requested at the shoot that Hardy be kept away from her, never a good sign for two lead actors in a picture who most certainly have to share the screen. Of course, in a recent Esquire cover story, Hardy denied the rumours, saying that everything is just fine. Hardy might be speaking the truth in the Esquire piece, but his response rather feels like the good soldier doing damage control on behalf of the film.

It was rumoured that Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron were not speaking to each other as Theron found Hardy “weird and scary”

Budgets swelling beyond their initial allotment and shooting schedules getting out of whack along the way are elements of a ‘troubled production’ that a film can overcome. Reshoots, however, are never a good sign. And if the principal actors of the film are feuding, their lack of chemistry and/or tension between each other will translate to their performances. Think of how stiff Kevin Costner was in Waterworld, or how disinterested Brad Pitt was in last year’s World War Z. Those aren’t accidents. Here’s hoping that Mad Max: Fury Road will be the film to finally fly in the face of so many rumours and problems in production.

 

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Featured image: Warner Bros

Inset images: Rosie H-W (via Twitter); Warner Bros

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