George Miller is Suing Warner Bros. Over Unpaid $7 Million Bonus From Mad Max: Fury Road
It's been two years since Mad Max: Fury Road hit theaters and gained critical acclaim. The film won six Academy Awards and took $378 million at the worldwide box office but now director George Miller is suing Warner Bros. in Australia, seeking payment on a $7 million bonus for keeping the action blockbuster under budget.
As Sydney Morning-Herald reports, the suit accuses Warner Bros. of factoring in costs that were the result of its own decisions so that the studio could claim that the project went beyond its $157 million USD budget. According to Justice David Hammerschlag, the agreement to make Fury Road included a condition that Kennedy Miller Mitchell would get a $7 million bonus if "the final net cost" of the film was not more than $157 million after certain costs were excluded from calculations.
"On [Warner Bros'] calculations, Mad Max went over budget. If these calculations are right, [Kennedy Miller Mitchell] does not get a bonus," Justice Hammerschlag explained. "[But the production company] claims [Warner Bros] made a series of decisions which caused substantial changes and delays to Mad Max, which led to additional costs and expenses and that [the studio] wrongly took them into account in its over-budget calculation."
"If those costs are left out of account [Kennedy Miller Mitchell] says that Mad Max came in under budget," Justice Hammerschlag 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,” Miller and his producing partner, Doug Mitchell, said in a statement to Sydney Morning-Herald. “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 lawsuit to sort things out.”
Warner Bros. responded with its own statement: “We disagree and will vigorously defend against these claims.”
It's a dispute that seems to show why the Australian filmmaker is yet to make two more long-planned Mad Max films.
The suit, which Miller and Mitchell filed in Australia on September 3, also accuses the studio of breaching their agreement when it let RatPac Entertainment take a 12.5% share in the project, breaking an obligation to first offer such terms to Miller and Mitchell.
Warner Bros. argues that the NSW was "a clearly inappropriate forum" to arbitrate the dispute, and it should be handled in California. However, on Thursday, Justice Hammerschlag disagreed.
The production company also alleges Warner Bros. for "misleading and deceptive conduct" for not informing it that additional costs due to the studio' delays and changes would be included in budget calculations.
Mad Max: Fury Road was released in 2015.