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George Miller Suing Warner Bros. for Unpaid ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Debt

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

By filmmaker George Miller’s own account, Mad Max: Fury Road took 10 years to develop and an additional three years of production — totally worth it, based on the end result, which picked up 10 Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) and won six. Though Miller has expressed interest in returning to the franchise in the (relatively) near future, those plans may suffer the consequences of a recent lawsuit filed by the Australian filmmaker to recoup an allegedly unpaid debt from Warner Bros.

The Sydney Morning Herald recently published a report on the suit, filed in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, where Miller’s production company is based. Miller and his producing partner Doug Mitchell are suing Warner Bros. for “substantial earnings” — a $7 million bonus they claim is owed to their production company, Kennedy Miller Mitchell.

The bonus was meant to be paid out if Miller did not exceed his budget on Fury Road. According to Warner Bros., he did just that, but Miller says the studio made decisions that led to additional delays and costs — which they unfairly took into account when calculating the final budget numbers. Fury Road cost over $150 million to make, and though Miller began filming in 2012, the finished product wasn’t released until 2015 due to production delays.

In a statement, Miller and Mitchell detailed the basis for their lawsuit, which could have an affect on future Mad Max sequels:

After all the hard work and success of the film, the studio failed to honour its obligations. Simply put, we are owed substantial earnings for diligent and painstaking work which spanned over 10 years in development of the script and preparation and three years in production of the movie. That hard work resulted in a picture which found wide acclaim globally. We would much prefer to be making movies with Warner Bros than litigating with them but, after trying for over a year, we were unable to reach a satisfactory resolution and have now had to resort to a law suit to sort things out.

$7 million isn’t much in comparison to the $378 million Fury Road grossed internationally, but it’s enough to pit Miller against Warner Bros., which has recently been eyeing the filmmaker to helm DC projects like Man of Steel 2 and Green Lantern Corps. Those gigs already seemed fairly unlikely for Miller to take on, but should WB not come to an agreement with the director, it’s even more doubtful that he’ll want to work with them again…on anything.

That would include a pair of planned Mad Max sequels, with one centering on Furiosa, the beloved, badass character played by Charlize Theron. Both she and co-star Tom Hardy have expressed an interest in returning to the world of the Wastelands, and fans are certainly stoked on the prospect. As evidenced by Fury Road, those sequels could take several years to make — potentially even longer as a result of this lawsuit (if they ever happen at all).

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