Warner Bros. Pictures hit Anaheim’s annual WonderCon fan convention on April 4 to show off footage from two of the studio’s May tentpoles, George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” and Brad Peyton’s “San Andreas.”
The panel kicked off with a look at footage from “Mad Max” which previously debuted at SXSW in March, featuring Tom Hardy’s titular character waking from the aftermath of a car chase and finding himself alone, trying to detach himself from the chains attaching him to a seemingly dead Nux (Nicholas Hoult). When that doesn’t work, he simply picks up the body of his captor and wanders off in search of shelter, soon meeting Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa and a group of women who are cleaning themselves off with water from a hose attached to a big rig and cutting themselves out of their own bondage. After gruffly demanding “water” (supposedly Hardy’s first line in the film and his only word of dialogue in the footage) and trying to get the women to cut his chains cut off, Hardy and Theron share a dazzling fight, tripping, rolling and throwing each other across their sandy surroundings all while the women and Nux complicate their brutal brawl.
Next came an extended sizzle reel which gave fans a deeper look at some of the intense car chases, set pieces and war machines involved in the film, with plenty of references to “The Road Warrior” scattered throughout — including a familiar music box.
The panel closed with “San Andreas,” which stars Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino and Alexandra Daddario. While Johnson wasn’t on hand in Anaheim for the presentation, Gugino and Daddario joined director Brad Peyton to talk about the new footage, which was cut together for WonderCon and featured even more seismic destruction than we’ve previously seen. In one of the first scenes, Gugino’s character is on the phone with her ex-husband (played by Johnson) at a restaurant housed in a skyscraper, when everything begins to shake. She makes it up to the roof just in time to see a neighboring skyscraper topple over, narrowly avoiding slamming into her building as Downtown Los Angeles starts to crumble around her. Johnson (who handily plays a LAFD rescue-helicopter pilot who happens to be in the air when the quake begins) soon swoops in to rescue his ex, before the two embark on a rescue mission to find their daughter (Daddario). The trailer also features plenty of striking images of California landmarks toppling, with the Hollywood sign falling from the hills and a massive tidal wave heading straight for San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, as well as harrowing scenes in which Johnson and Daddario’s characters are trapped underwater and unable to find a way out.
Peyton admitted that while the film is designed to show the “worst-case scenario” and that the devastating chain of events seen in the film were “unlikely” to ever happen simultaneously, they tried to keep it grounded in reality and “within the realm of possibility” to show what could happen if the largest quake ever recorded were to originate from the San Andreas Fault.
He revealed that just before they began shooting, a new method of measuring earthquakes was discovered, prompting them to change dialogue at the last moment to ensure that the science was as accurate as possible. Peyton also said that Paul Giamatti’s scientist character is “speaking very real information” in the trailer about how a large enough quake on the West Coast could potentially be felt on the East Coast too.
The film shot primarily in Australia, and Peyton said he wanted to make it “as real as possible” through practical sets and effects, so that the actors could really engage with the material. “When you know it’s real and you see the reactions from people, there’s no doubt… this is raw, this is honest, this is fantastic,” he said.
“Epic is the appropriate word for this,” Gugino agreed. “What really took me into the script was the emotion and raw nature of these characters.” She recalled asking Peyton whether he wanted “this level of emotion in the midst of this huge action movie” — which he did, in order to make the film more visceral. “I tried to do every stunt that they let me do,” she said. “Every piece of artifice was taken away… this is a movie about a family under attack.”
“Mad Max: Fury Road” debuts in theaters on May 15; “San Andreas” opens on May 29.