Earning Dispute Delaying Next “Mad Max”?

Over two years after its release, “Mad Max: Fury Road” director George Miller is suing Warner Bros. Pictures over unpaid earnings, a dispute that is a potential reason for Miller being hesitant to get to work on more “Mad Max” movies.

Miller famously overcame nearly two decades of setbacks to make the fourth movie in the action series which received near unanimous critical acclaim, six Oscars and took in $378 million at the box-office. According to SMH, the dispute is between Miller’s production company Kennedy Miller Mitchell and Warner Bros. Pictures and is over two key things.

The first is it included a condition that Kennedy Miller Mitchell would receive a $US7 million bonus if “the final net cost” of the movie was not more than $US157 million after certain costs were excluded from calculations. The second is that if Warner Bros. Pictures intended to seek another co-financier, it would first offer Kennedy Miller Mitchell the chance to provide finance. Justice Hammerschlag of the Australian Supreme Court of NSW says:

“On [Warner Bros’] calculations, Mad Max went over budget. If these calculations are right, [Kennedy Miller Mitchell] does not get a bonus. [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.”

The production company’s claim against Warners is also for “misleading and deceptive conduct” for not informing it that additional costs due to the studio’s changes and delays would be included in budget calculations. The production company also claims Warner Bros entered into a co-financing agreement with RatPac Entertainment for 12.5% of the movie’s funding – breaching the agreement to give Kennedy Miller Mitchell first offer. In a statement, Miller and Mitchell tell the paper:

“[We are disappointed that] after all the hard work and success of the film, the studio failed to honour its obligations. 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,” they said. “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 law suit to sort things out.”

Warner Bros responded with a short statement saying: “We disagree and will vigorously defend against these claims.” Warners lost a ruling this week that the dispute should be arbitrated in New South Wales (Kennedy Miller Mitchell’s home base) rather than in California (Warners home base).