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Why Mad Max 5: The Wasteland Is Taking So Long

2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road left many fans eager to see more from the titular antihero, leading many viewers to wonder when the Mad Max 5 release date will finally be announced. The Mad Max franchise has never been too concerned by the lengthy gaps in its production schedule. Although the first Mad Max from 1979 was swiftly followed by 1981’s The Road Warrior, it took a lot longer for the third installment of the franchise, Beyond Thunderdome, to arrive on screens in 1985. Meanwhile, the fourth Mad Max movie, Fury Road, took no less than three decades to produce, resulting in Tom Hardy replacing Max’s actor Mel Gibson as the star had aged out of the role that made him famous.


Mathematically, these gaps in production suggest that it will literally be the post-apocalypse by the time Mad Max 5 gets released in whatever remaining theaters are left standing in humanity’s last settlements. This is unfortunate because George Miller’s 2015 reboot/sequel to his acclaimed genre-defining films from the ’80s created a new generation of Mad Max fans unable to wait for the next one’s release. Despite the sequel’s critical acclaim, however, no new Mad Max movie has materialized in the intervening years.

Related: Mad Max Fury Road: The History Men Explained

It’s been almost seven long years since Fury Road reignited the franchise, so why is Mad Max: The Wasteland taking its time reaching theaters? The answer to why the Mad Max 5 release date hasn’t been finalized is complicated. It involves an ongoing lawsuit, the upcoming Furiosa spinoff movie, and series star Tom Hardy’s prior commitments. While Furiosa’s canon backstory may arrive on-screen (comparatively) soon, Mad Max: The Wasteland won’t be hitting cinemas for quite some time due to the issues outlined above, and may end up leaving the franchise fallow for as long as ten years (or more, depending on the schedules of its star and director).

Mad Max 5: The Wasteland Explained

Tom hardy venom success effects mad max 5

Despite what fans of the Mad Max series may have assumed, the fifth installment has been announced and its star Tom Hardy said he signed on for more than one movie before the release and subsequent success of Fury Road. Original creator and director George Miller has ambitious plans for the fifth movie’s story which he outlined during the production of Fury Road, although even the most eager Mad Max franchise fans will have trouble unearthing any details about these plans. Indeed, unlike the Mad Max prequel Furiosa, which is already slated for release in 2024, there are zero developments regarding the Mad Max 5 release date. As of right now, a title is all that viewers have to go on, with Miller announcing that the next sequel will be called “The Wasteland.”

The odds are good that the sequel will follow Max across the titular post-apocalyptic setting and, judging by the name, may finally explain how the Mad Max franchise’s world ended in-universe. The series has been infamously vague about the cause of its offscreen apocalypse, which various movies crediting the end of the world to nuclear war, fuel shortages, or a combination of the two. As such, it stands to reason that The Wasteland will fill in this blank by explaining the circumstances that ended Max’s world between the first and second movies, putting an end to the ever-shifting Mad Max apocalypse backstory. The lack of any update regarding the Mad Max 5 release date is bound to only cause more fan theories and speculation about the plot.

Why Mad Max 5: The Wasteland Is Taking So Long

While the title of the fifth Mad Max movie is a known entity, the cause of the Mad Max 5 release date’s delay is another story altogether. In 2017, Miller’s production company filed a lawsuit against Mad Max: Fury Road’s distributor Warner Brothers regarding a $7 million bonus that they claim went unpaid, thus delaying any attempt to get a sequel off the ground. Despite Fury Road’s incredible box office performance and critical success, the next Mad Max movie’s production was held back by this lawsuit for several years before another issue reared its head. In October 2020, a new project in the franchise was announced, but it wasn’t a Fury Road sequel.

Related: Mad Max: Fury Road Filming Location’s Secret Meaning

The Furiosa Question


According to Miller, Furiosa’s spinoff movie will be the biggest in the Mad Max franchise so far, with a vast budget and scope. The spinoff won’t reach cinemas until July 2024, meaning that The Wasteland will need to wait even longer before the sequel can enter production. Already, the Furiosa movie’s delays have resulted in Miller recasting Charlize Theron’s character as the younger Anya Taylor-Joy due to the original actor aging out of the role. This, combined with the movie’s release date being delayed from 2023 to 2024, proves that the Mad Max franchise is not rushing its first spinoff, meaning The Wasteland will have to wait even longer. However, action genre legend Charlize Theron is not the only one whose changing career affects the trajectory of the sci-fi action franchise.

Mad Max’s Star Tom Hardy Is Busy

Tom Hardy Mad Max James Bond 007

Since his Mad Max success in 2015, Tom Hardy has gone from strength to strength as a blockbuster leading man. Add in the fact that Hardy is among the top three better’s choices for the role of James Bond and fans of Mad Max have a perfect storm delaying the next movie in the series. While the success of Venom: Let There Be Carnage may have delayed the production of Mad Max: The Wasteland, it is the prospect of Hardy playing 007 that could prove even more problematic for fans of the sci-fi series. While any major future Spider-Man projects including Hardy’s Venom are bound to be blockbuster hits, the sprawling nature of the massive MCU means entire movies could be made without Hardy’s direct involvement. In fact, most Marvel viewers seem to be satisfied with Hardy’s short post-credits cameo in Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Venom is generally expected to reappear in the MCU in a more major role much later down the line.

Meanwhile, playing James Bond would be another story entirely, since a 007 movie can’t get by without its leading man. The suave super-spy’s recent cinematic adventures have been slow to arrive in cinemas, with three years elapsing between the release of Skyfall and Spectre and six between Spectre and No Time To Die. In fairness, COVID-19 caused some of No Time To Die’s release date delays, but the spy franchise was already slow to produce and release new movies before this issue arose. As such, fans of the Mad Max movies could reasonably be worried by the idea of Hardy taking on the role of Bond since this would lock him into another blockbuster series that is slow to release new movies. That said, Hardy has not been offered the role of 007 yet and may well turn down the part, particularly when the critical reception of recent Bond movies can’t compare to Fury Road’s unanimously glowing reviews. As such, Mad Max fans may have nothing to worry about when it comes to the franchise’s future — although it will seemingly be quite some time before they find out.

George Miller’s Mad Max 5 Updates Explain Delay

George miller mad max road warrior

Mad Max 5: The Wasteland director George Miller says that the story is not yet fully evolved, which is likely the main cause of the delay. Fortunately, this means Furiosa will be good for Mad Max 5, as the Miller prequel will allow the director better flesh out his post-apocalyptic world and continue developing stories that can keep the genre relevant for decades to come. Indeed, even for Miller, crafting the plot and characters for Mad Max 5 cannot be an easy task.

Related: Mad Max: How Old Max Is In Every Movie

Miller’s first three films essentially jump-started the post-apocalypse genre and inadvertently birthed dozens of notable films that also explore stories in the wasteland, including Edge of Tomorrow, Children of Men, The Road, The Matrix, Stalker, The Day After Tomorrow, and I Am Legend. Likewise, video game series like Fallout and Wasteland have more than done their part in popularizing fictional scenarios of human society’s collapse. As one of the handful of directors credited for making the post-apocalypse mainstream, expectations are extremely high for Miller’s next film.

Moreover, Mad Max 5 not casting Tom Hardy yet or even locking him down for talks about the role further compounds the pressure on the fifth movie. Even if Miller can somehow find a suitable replacement for Hardy, casting another actor whose performance would measure up to Hardy’s would only further contribute to the delay. Hopefully, with the release of Furiosa, Miller will be better equipped to arrive at the exact world he wants to build with Mad Max 5 – which, in turn, could convince Hardy to prioritize this franchise over others.

More: Rats: Night Of Terror Turned Mad Max Into A (Bad) Monster Movie

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