Released two and a half years ago, George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road wound up being one of the most significant hits of 2015 – from a box office perspective, and even during awards season. It looked like a huge win for all involved, the quality of the finished product even patching up the relationship between stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, but it seems things aren’t entirely alright behind the scenes. Now, Miller is suing Warner Bros. over unpaid earnings.
A report from Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald says that Kennedy Miller Mitchell, George Miller’s production company, is now suing Warner Bros., with details emerging from the Supreme Court of New South Wales. According to Justice David Hammerschlag, the contract for the production of Mad Max: Fury Road included an agreement regarding a $7 million bonus. This amount would be paid out if the “final net cost” of the movie was not more than $157 million – subtracting certain costs – and Miller and his company believe they are owed that money due to unforeseeable circumstances that the project encountered mid-production.
Hammerschlag says that Warner Bros.’ cost estimates show that Mad Max: Fury Road went over the proposed $157 million line, but argues fault in the calculation. The George Miller-directed dystopian adventure famously experienced a rough development and production period due to certain delays and weather issues, but Kennedy Miller Mitchell doesn’t believe those problems should be held against them. Discounting the costs of those delays and problems, says Hammerschlag, the production did earn their bonus.
Making the suit more complicated is an issue also involving Warner Bros.’ co-financing agreement with Brett Ratner’s production company, RatPac Entertainment. Part of the Kennerdy Miller Mitchell agreement with Warner Bros. reportedly included a clause that said the former would be given the opportunity to finance the project would the latter start searching for another co-financer. By bringing in RatPac Entertainment – which brought 12.5 percent of the project’s funding – Kennedy Miller Mitchell argues that WB was in breach.
In a statement, George Miller and producing partner Doug Mitchell said,
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.
In their own statement, Warner Bros. officially replied:
We disagree and will vigorously defend against these claims.
We will continue to follow this development, and also hope that we will eventually see an agreement that results in Mad Max 5 becoming a reality.