George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road,” starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, is set to screen on May 14 at the Cannes Film Festival.

While some had speculated that the Warner Bros./Village Roadshow tentpole might unspool on opening night, the festival has gone the unusual route of clearing a special second-day, out-of-competition slot for the film, one day before its May 15 worldwide theatrical release.

A rare case of a director returning to a franchise he created after a decades-long absence, “Fury Road” was first announced as early as 2003 (when it was set to star Mel Gibson), then spent much of the next decade in and out of pre-production, before finally going before the cameras in 2012. The epic production shot for more than 100 days on locations in Namibia and Australia on a $100 million budget (though unofficial reports suggest much higher).

Aside from serving on the competition jury in 1988 and 1999, this will be the Oscar-winning Miller’s first official appearance in Cannes, where the original “Mad Max” screened for market buyers in 1979. That film launched the international careers of both Miller and its star, the 23-year-old Gibson, with its tale of a futuristic police officer seeking vengeance against the motorcycle gang responsible for the death of his wife and son. Gibson went on to reprise the role twice, in 1981’s “Mad Max 2” (released in the U.S. as “The Road Warrior”) and 1985’s “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.”

Described by Miller as a “revisiting” of the “Mad Max” universe, “Fury Road” finds British star Hardy stepping into Gibson’s leather chaps opposite Theron as Imperator Furiosa, a tanker-driving heroine who leads a prison break from the fortified compound of heavy Immortan Joe (played by original “Mad Max” villain Hugh Keays-Byrne). Once again, the setting is a near future ravaged by oil wars and depleted natural resources. The cast also features Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Australian bodybuilder Nathan Jones.

Cannes will announce its full official-selection lineup on April 16. The festival runs May 13-24.