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Does Furiosa’s Box-Office Bomb Mean George Miller’s Plans Are Over?


Does Furiosa's Box-Office Bomb Mean George Miller's Plans Are Over?


Summary

  • Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga went from highly anticipated to box office bomb, making studios wary of future Mad Max films.
  • Despite great reviews, Furiosa failed to draw audiences, leading to doubts about the franchise’s profitability moving forward.
  • Warner Bros. may prioritize other franchises over Mad Max, but a return to a traditional sequel like Mad Max: The Wasteland could still be possible.



What seemed on paper to be one of the biggest hit movies of the summer, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, is now looking to be one of the biggest bombs of the year. The prequel to the critically acclaimed and extremely popular Mad Max: Fury Road that told the story of Furiosa, with Anya Taylor-Joy stepping into the role previously played by Charlize Theron, received positive reviews from critics and could have in the footsteps of Dune: Part Two as a continuation to an Academy Award-nominated blockbuster made by an auteur filmmaker. It seemed to be the type of movie that everyone wanted to see…but then nobody did. The movie had the worst Memorial Day opening weekend since 1995 and has continued to drop at the box office each week.


As of this writing, the movie has grossed $58 million domestically and, even with a total of $144 million worldwide, is coming in well below the reported $168 million budget to turn a profit. This now puts a big speed bump in the road for director George Miller’s next film in the Mad MaxSaga, The Wasteland. Miller previously said the film would depend on Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga‘s box office performance. Judging by the box office performance of Furiosa, Mad Max: The Wasteland is in danger. Here is everything we know and how one surprising Pixar film might point to hope for how The Wasteland can still happen despite Furiosa being a box office bomb.


Mad Max: The Wasteland Story


When Mad Max: Fury Road debuted in 2015, Tom Hardy revealed he had signed on for three movies. In 2017, production on any Mad Max movie was stalled due to Miller’s production company filing a lawsuit against Warner Bros. over pay disputes regarding Mad Max: Fury Road. The lawsuit was finally settled in March 2020, and Miller began developing his next film in the Mad Max Saga. In the 15 years of development for Mad Max: Fury Road, Miller wrote detailed backstories for all the characters, including a Furiosa-centric screenplay and one for what Max had been up to before the film. The Furiosa-centric screenplay eventually became Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, which Miller moved forward on, but he intended to follow it up with the Max-centric screenplay titled Mad Max: The Wasteland.


Related

Furiosa and the Development Hell That Led to a Box Office Bomb

The box office failure of Furiosa is the result of WB and George Miller failing to strike while the iron was hot after Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015.

Miller and Nico Lathouris, who co-wrote both Fury Road and Furiosa, wrote what they described as a novella that focused on Max’s travels before being captured by Immortan Joe at the beginning of Fury Road. It is unclear if Hardy would reprise his role as Mad Max or if Miller would instead recast the role for a younger actor since he did the same for Furiosa. Miller said he was waiting to see the box office reception to Furiosa before developing the story into a film. Now that the box office dust has settled on Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, here is what the future holds for the franchise.

Warner Bros. Might Not Want To Invest In More Mad Max Films After Furiosa Bombed


While Mad Max: Fury Road might not have been the biggest box office hit of 2015, even coming in below Pitch Perfect 2 in its opening weekend, it still grossed $153 million domestically, barely squeaking by its $150 million budget. Combined with a $379 million worldwide gross and landing ten Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and winning six (Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Production Design), it was an investment that paid off in the long run. Furiosa, though, is a different story.

In 17 days of release, Furiosa has grossed as much as Mad Max: Fury Road did in nine days and is dropping off much quicker than its predecessor. It is unlikely that money will be recouped at the box office, and unlike other blockbuster franchises, there are no tie-in deals or merchandise to gain back revenue. While it is still far too early, its Oscar chances seem slim since its biggest competition in those technical categories is another Warner Bros. sci-fi desert movie, Dune: Part Two. With a bigger box office and larger cultural reaction, Warner Bros. will likely put most of its Academy Award focus on Dune: Part Two and leave Furisoa: A Mad Max Saga behind.


Related

The Box-Office Meltdown of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, Explained

Despite excellent reviews, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is going up in smoke at the box office.

Warner Bros. now might be less willing to invest in more Mad Max movies. Despite overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, audiences are not turning out in big numbers for them in theaters. Mad Max was always more of a niche box office franchise compared to other ’80s properties like Indiana Jones and Ghostbusters, and even they have struggled at the box office lately. Mad Max is a niche franchise, one that Warner Bros. might not want to put money behind anymore in favor of other franchises like Dune, the MonsterVerse, and the upcoming DCU.


If Miller were to bring in Mad Max: The Wasteland for a smaller budget, Warner Bros. might be willing to put up the money, given his status as one of the most acclaimed filmmakers working today. Yet would Miller want to tell the story on a smaller budget and risk the film looking smaller than the large bombastic set pieces of Fury Road and Furiosa? Well, there is one recent box office bomb in a popular franchise that might point to how the Mad Max franchise could bounce back: Lightyear.

Lightyear Might Point The Way for Mad Max


As surprising as it might be, Lightyear might be the best point to compare to Furiosa. Much like Furiosa, Lightyear was the fifth film in a popular franchise (Toy Story), but instead of a direct sequel, it was a high-concept spin-off film. Where Furiosa looked to show the backstory of a new character from Fury Road, Lightyear was the in-universe movie that inspired the Buzz Lightyear toy in the Toy Story films. Both movies recast the title character; now, Chris Evans was the voice of the movie Buzz Lightyear as opposed to Tim Allen’s toy Buzz. Both were bold pitches to move a franchise beyond a traditional sequel format and like Furiosa, Lightyear bombed at the box office.

Lightyear opened to a disappointing $50 million, opening behind Jurassic World: Dominion in its second weekend. It did not recover in the following weeks and grossed only $118 million against a $200 million budget, with the $226 million worldwide budget not enough to save the movie, and eventually, the film’s director and producer were let go from Pixar in 2023 during the first wave of layoffs at Disney.


Despite being a Pixar film and a spin-off of one of the most popular franchises of all time, Lightyear was a swing that did not work for general audiences. Shortly after Lightyear bombed, Pixar announced they would be returning to the Toy Story franchise with a traditional sequel. Toy Story 5 is set to open in theaters on June 19, 2026, with WALL-E director Andrew Stanton at the helm. Instead of continuing with the Toy Story franchise with Lightyear, they are returning to the well of what worked before.

How does this pertain to Mad Max: The Wasteland? Well, just like Lightyear was a movie that shifted Toy Story away from the core concept before returning to a more straightforward sequel, Warner Bros. might be willing to back Miller on a more straightforward Mad Max-centric film as opposed to Furiosa, which was a spin-off that took a different stylistic approach. Mad Max: The Wasteland actually might be the safer, more conventional choice in terms of a new film, and Warner Bros. could still see the value in the IP, despite Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga bombing at the box office. It might be the wrong lesson to take, but for fans of the franchise, as long as they get another George Miller Mad Max film, it could be their only option.


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