×

Mel’s big Max attack

Gibson, Miller back for 'Road' warrior

Mel Gibson, who toplined the 1979 cult hit “Mad Max,” is returning to the franchise once again, this time at Twentieth Century Fox.

He’ll be paid a salary approaching $25 million under the helm of the original “Mad Max” director, George Miller, toplining a script that Miller has been crafting the last three years. Pic is entitled “Fury Road” and will once again feature Mad Max in the lawless, post-apocalpytic Australian outback.

Fox insiders say plans call for the $104 million megapic to begin lensing in Australia, with next May as the targeted start date.

“This is the most exhaustively prepared movie I have ever been associated with,” said Hutch Parker, the prexy of production at Twentieth Century Fox. “The script is as ready as they come.”

Miller got the rights to the Mad Max franchise back from Warner Bros. as part of a settlement with the studio in 1997. Warners, which released both “Mad Max: The Road Warrior” in 1981 and “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” in 1985, gave him the rights after Miller — who’d directed and co-written all three movies — agreed to detach himself from Warner Bros.’ Jodie Foster-starrer “Contact” and allow Robert Zemeckis to helm.

Pic will be produced by Miller and longtime producing partner Doug Mitchell, and by Gibson’s producing partner Bruce Davey at Icon, which is also handling select foreign territories. Insiders familiar with the deal say Icon will sell the rights to Australia, England and one other unnamed European territory.

Talks started in earnest about 10 months ago, shortly after Icon signed a two-year first-look production deal with 20th Century Fox, ending a long-term association with Paramount. Then, at the start of the summer, secret script readings began in Bruce Davey’s kitchen.

Says Parker: “The script’s been so tightly controlled, it would have been easier to get into the NSA (National Security Administration).”

Deal marks both the first pic that Miller will direct since the 1998 sequel to his 1995 script “Babe,” and the first pic that he’s ever directed for Fox, which has been courting him for years.

The trilogy of “Mad Max” pics, for all their iconic value, amounted to a rather slender B.O., grossing only $69 million in total domestically. That’s partly because the 1979 original, released by Village Roadshow, Orion Pictures and AIP, was hardly seen Stateside at all. Franchise only grew significant with “Mad Max: The Road Warrior.”

But, says Parker, “there are so few roles that define ‘big screen action hero’ and this is one of them. This is an event movie, and we know how to market event movies. It’s Max the way you want to see him.”

In October, Gibson’s Icon deal at Fox yielded a greenlit picture in “Paparazzi,” a pic that starts lensing in February, with Cole Hauser toplining.

In September, the ICM-repped Gibson committed to return to the director’s chair with “The Passion,” starring James Caviezel in a chronicle of the final 12 hours in the life of Jesus Christ.

More Film

  • Glass Movie

    'Glass' to Rank in Top 3 MLK Debuts With $48 Million

    M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” is on its way to a solid debut with an estimated $48 million for the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. A sequel to 2000’s “Unbreakable” and 2017’s “Split,” the Universal superhero thriller should bring in around $41 million from 3,841 domestic locations over the Friday through Sunday period. The estimates are [...]

  • China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to

    China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to Hit French Theaters (EXCLUSIVE)

    Midnight Blur Films has signed a deal with French distributor Les Acacias to release Chinese arthouse drama “Three Adventures of Brooke” in France this year, the Chinese production company told Variety on Saturday. A release date has yet to be set for the film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and stars Chinese newcomer Xu Fangyi [...]

  • Noe Debre On His Directorial Debut,

    Top French Screenwriter Noe Debre Makes Directorial Debut, ‘The Seventh Continent’

    This last half-decade, few French screenwriters have run up such an illustrious list of co-write credits as Noé Debré. Thomas Bedigain’s writing partner on Jacques Audiard’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Deephan,” Debra co-penned Bedigain’s own debut, “The Cowboys,” “Racer and the Jailbird,” by Michael Roskam, and “Le Brio,” directed by Yvan Attal. He has now [...]

  • Julien Trauman Talks Survival-Thriller Short ‘At

    Julien Trauman on Survival-Thriller Short ‘At Dawn’

    France’s Julien Trauman has never been afraid to play with genre, and in his latest short, the MyFrenchFilmFestival participant “At Dawn,” he employs aspects of psychological thriller, survival, coming-of-age and fantasy filmmaking. “At Dawn” kicks off the night before when a group of teens, one about to leave town, are imbibing heavily around a beach-side [...]

  • ‘Flowers’ Director Baptiste Petit-Gats Interview

    Baptiste Petit-Gats: ‘Editing Taught Me How to Write for Film’

    France’s Baptiste Petit-Gats is an hyphenate that keeps himself plenty busy editing, photographing, writing and directing. The bulk of his editing gigs up until now have been in documentary film work, evident in the way he shot and edited his own short film, participating in the MyFrenchFilmFestival, “Flowers.” In the film, Petit-Gats tells the heartbreaking [...]

  • Fanny Litard, Jérémy Trouilh on ‘Blue

    France’s Fanny Liatard, Jérémy Trouilh Discuss MyFFF Suburban Fable ‘Blue Dog’

    French filmmakers Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh met at university while studying political science before diverging towards separate careers. Trouilh trained in documentary filmmaking; Liatard worked on urban artistic projects in Lebanon and France. They eventually joined back up to film three shorts: “Gagarine,” a Sundance Channel Shorts Competition Jury Prize winner in 2016; “The [...]

  • MFFF: 'The Collection' Director Blanchard Readies

    'The Collection' Director Emmanuel Blanchard Readies First Feature

    Paris-born Emmanuel Blanchard studied and then taught history before becoming a documentary filmmaker responsible for films such as “Bombing War,” “Le diable de la République” and “Après la guerre.” He’s currently directing “Notre-Dame de Paris”, a 90-minute animated part-doc, part-fiction film on the building of the world-famous Paris cathedral. Competing at MyFFF, “The Collection” is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content