Mad Max (franchise)

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Mad Max
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Original workMad Max (1979)
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Mad Max is an Australian post-apocalyptic action media franchise created by George Miller and Byron Kennedy. It began in 1979 with Mad Max, and was followed by three films: Mad Max 2 (1981, released in the United States as The Road Warrior), Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). Mel Gibson starred in the first three films and Tom Hardy took over as Max in the fourth film.

The series follows the adventures of Max Rockatansky, a police officer in a future Australia which is experiencing societal collapse due to war and critical resource shortages. When his wife and child are murdered by a vicious biker gang, Max kills them in revenge and becomes a drifting loner in the Wasteland. As Australia devolves further into barbarity, this skilled warrior of the road finds himself helping pockets of civilisation, initially for his own self-interest, but his motives always drift into more idealistic ones.

The series has been well-received by critics, with each film marked "Certified Fresh" on the film review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes; Mad Max 2 and Fury Road in particular have been ranked among the best action films ever made. Furthermore, the series has also had a significant influence on popular culture, most notably apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and encompasses works in additional media, including video games and comic books. In 2016, Fury Road became the first film of the Mad Max franchise to receive Academy Award recognition, including being nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for Miller, and winning six of its ten nominations.


Film Release date Director(s) Screenwriter(s) Story by Producer(s) Status
Mad Max April 12, 1979 (1979-04-12) George Miller[a] George Miller & James McCausland George Miller & Byron Kennedy Byron Kennedy Released
Mad Max 2 December 24, 1981 (1981-12-24) George Miller, Terry Hayes & Brian Hannant
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome July 10, 1985 (1985-07-10) George Miller & Terry Hayes George Miller
Mad Max: Fury Road May 14, 2015 (2015-05-14) George Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nico Lathouris George Miller, Doug Mitchell and PJ Voeten
Untitled prequel film TBA George Miller & Nico Lathouris TBA In development
  1. ^ Miller co-directed the third Mad Max film with George Ogilvie

Mad Max (1979)[edit]

Mad Max is a 1979 Australian action film directed by George Miller. Written by Miller and James McCausland from a story by Miller and producer Byron Kennedy,set between 1983 and 1985, a few years after the 1973 oil crisis. It tells a story of societal breakdown, murder, and revenge. The film, starring the then little-known Mel Gibson, was released internationally in 1980. It became a top-grossing Australian film, while holding the record in the Guinness Book of Records for decades as the most profitable film ever created,[1] and has been credited for further opening the global market to Australian New Wave films.[2][3]

Mad Max 2 (1981)[edit]

Mad Max 2 (released as The Road Warrior in the United States) is a 1981 Australian post-apocalyptic action film directed by George Miller. This sequel to Miller's Mad Max was a worldwide box office success that further launched the career of Mel Gibson. The film's tale of a community of settlers that moved to defend themselves against a roving band of marauders follows an archetypal "Western" frontier movie motif, as does Max's role as a hardened man who rediscovers his humanity. It also opens with a previously unexplained backstory on the tragic events that led to those in the original film.[4]

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)[edit]

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is a 1985 film, the third instalment in the franchise. The film was directed by George Miller and George Ogilvie, and starred Mel Gibson and Tina Turner. The original music score was composed by Maurice Jarre. While Miller initially lost interest in the project after his friend and producer Byron Kennedy was killed in a helicopter crash, he later agreed to move forward with the assistance of Ogilvie.[5]

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)[edit]

Mad Max: Fury Road the fourth film and a “revisit” to the franchise (as described by Miller),[6] is a 2015 post-apocalyptic action film co-written and directed by George Miller. While location scouting was reported to be underway in May 2009,[7] production was delayed until June 2012 due to unusually high levels of rain in the Australian desert which detracted from the post-apocalyptic feeling that Miller wanted. Shooting ultimately took place in Namibia the following year.[8] The film was released on 15 May 2015. It features British actor Tom Hardy as Mad Max and Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa. Gibson was originally attached to star in Fury Road during its failed 2003 production attempt.[9]

Untitled prequel film (TBA)[edit]

Miller and McCarthy found during the writing process for Mad Max: Fury Road that they had enough story material for two additional scripts.[10] In March 2020, it was announced that a spin-off film centered around Furiosa was in development with auditions via Skype, including Anya Taylor-Joy.[11] By May of the same year, the untitled prequel centered around Furiosa, was confirmed to be in active development. Miller explained that extensive backstories were created for the characters in Fury Road, and that with Furiosa an entire script was written. The filmmaker announced that the primary character will be recast. Though he had originally wanted to digitally de-age Theron to reprise the role, he decided against this after seeing The Irishman and deciding that technology has not yet overcome uncanny valley. Colin Gibson and John Seale will return as production designer and cinematographer, respectively.[12] Filming is expected to begin in 2021.[11]


In March 2015, Hardy revealed that he was attached to star in three more Mad Max films, following Fury Road.[13] After the release of Fury Road, Miller announced that a sequel is in development, with the working title of "Mad Max: The Wasteland".[14][15] By January 2016, and after misleading reports stated that the franchise was over, Miller reaffirmed that he is working on followup movies.[16]

Cast and crew[edit]


List indicator(s)
  • A dark grey cell indicates that the character was not in the film or that the character's presence in the film has yet to be announced.
  • An O indicates a role as an older version of the character.
  • An Y indicates a role as a younger version of the character.
  • An A indicates a role represented with archival footage or stills.
Characters Original series Reboot Prequel Video game
Mad Max Mad Max 2 Mad Max
Beyond Thunderdome
Mad Max:
Fury Road
Untitled prequel film Mad Max
1979 1981 1985 2015 2022 2015
Max Rockatansky Mel Gibson Tom Hardy TBA Bren Foster
Toecutter Immortan Joe Hugh Keays-Byrne Hugh Keays-Byrne Fred Tatasciore
Benno Swaisey
Broken Victim
Max Fairchild
Jessie Rockatansky Joanne Samuel Joanne SamuelA
Sprog Rockatansky Brendan Heath Brendan HeathA
Gyro Captain Bruce Spence
Jedediah the Pilot
Imperator Furiosa Charlize Theron TBA
Glory the Child Coco Jack Gillies Madison Carlon
Jim "Goose" Rains Steve Bisley
Bubba Zanetti Geoff Parry
Johnny the Boy Tim Burns
May Swaisey Sheila Florence
Nightrider Vincent Gil
The Humungus Kjell Nilsson
Wez Vernon Wells
The Feral Kid Emil MintyY Harold BaigentO
Warrior Woman Virginia Hey
Pappagallo Michael Preston
Aunty Entity Tina Turner
Savannah Nix Helen Buday
Jedediah Jr. Adam Cockburn
Pig Killer Robert Grubb
Ironbar Bassey Angry Anderson
Nux Nicholas Hoult
Splendid Angharad Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Capable Riley Keough
The Dag Abbey Lee
Toast the Knowing Zoë Kravitz
Cheedo the Fragile Courtney Eaton
Rictus Erectus Nathan Jones
Slit Josh Helman
The People Eater John Howard
The Bullet Farmer Richard Carter
The Doof Warrior iOTA
The Valkyrie Megan Gale
Keeper of the Seeds Melissa Jaffer
The Organic Mechanic Angus Sampson Fred Tatasciore
Chumbucket Jason Spisak
Scabrous Scrotus Travis Willingham

The series' protagonist, Max Rockatansky, was portrayed through the first three films by Mel Gibson. Tom Hardy took over the role for 2015's Fury Road. The series features a few recurring cast members in different roles. Bruce Spence played different aviators in two of the films, first the Gyro Captain in Mad Max 2 and then Jedediah the Pilot in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.[17] Hugh Keays-Byrne has taken antagonist roles twice: he played Toecutter in Mad Max and Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road.[18] Max Fairchild appeared as Benno Swaisey in Mad Max and as "Broken Victim" of the Humungus's gang in Mad Max 2.[19]


Film Crew/Detail
Composer Cinematographer Editor(s) Production
Running time MPAA rating
Mad Max Brian May David Eggby Tony Paterson & Cliff Hayes Kennedy Miller Productions,
Roadshow Film Distributors,
Warner Bros.
1hr 33mins R
Mad Max 2 Dean Semler David Stiven, Tim Wellburn & Michael Balson Kennedy Miller Productions Roadshow Film Distributors,
Warner Bros.,
Warner Bros. Pictures: an AOL Time Warner Company
1hr 36mins
Mad Max
Beyond Thunderdome
Maurice Jarre Richard Francis-Bruce Roadshow Film Distributors,
Warner Bros.
1hr 47mins PG-13
Mad Max:
Fury Road
Junkie XL John Seale Margaret Sixel Warner Bros. Pictures,
Village Roadshow Pictures,
Kennedy Miller Mitchell Productions,
RatPac-Dune Entertainment
Roadshow Films,
Warner Bros. Pictures
2hrs R
Untitled prequel film TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA TBD


Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office gross Budget Ref(s)
Australia North America Other
Mad Max 12 April 1979 A$5,355,490 $8,750,000 ~$91,250,000 ~$100,000,000 A$380,000 [20][21][22]
Mad Max 2 24 December 1981 A$10,847,491 $23,667,907 $21,000,000R $36,000,000R A$4.5 million [20][23][24][25]
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome 10 July 1985 A$4,272,802 $36,230,219 $16,000,000R $52,000,000R A$12 million [20][26][27][24][25]
Mad Max: Fury Road 15 May 2015 A$21,606,347 $153,121,629 $205,000,000 $374,736,354 US$150 million [28]
Total A$36,547,536 $221,769,755 $37 millionR
+$296 million
$72 millionR
+$475 million
A$17 million
+US$150 million

List indicator(s)

  • A dark grey cell indicates the information is not available for the film.

RDistributor rental

Critical and public response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Mad Max 90% (7.74/10 average rating) (61 reviews)[29] 73 (14 reviews)[30]
Mad Max 2 93% (8.43/10 average rating) (45 reviews)[31] 77 (15 reviews)[32]
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome 80% (6.46/10 average rating) (50 reviews)[33] 71 (18 reviews)[34]
Mad Max: Fury Road 97% (8.6/10 average rating) (418 reviews)[35] 90 (51 reviews)[36]

Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave Mad Max: Fury Road a grade "B+" on scale of A to F.[37]



Other media[edit]


Many licensed products are based on the Mad Max franchise. Products include novels, comic books, video games, and other materials.[38] Novelizations of the first three films have also been published by QB Books. The first two novelisations were written by Terry Hayes, who ended up co-writing the script for the second film after getting along well with Miller.[39] A novelisation for the third film was written by Joan D. Vinge.[40]

Video games[edit]

Mad Max is a 1990 NES game developed and published by Mindscape Inc. based on the film Mad Max 2. The object of the game is to survive life in the post-apocalyptic world by battling survivalists and collecting resources. Mindscape did developed another Mad Max game originally title The Road Warrior for SNES and Sega Genesis, but due to Mindscape losing the license before completion they changed the title to Outlander to avoid legal issues and was released in 1992 for Sega Genesis and SNES. Later, in June 2013, it was revealed at E3 that developer Avalanche Studios would be developing a video game based on the setting of Mad Max. The game was released in September 2015 for Linux, OS X, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows and Xbox One, with the titular character being voiced by Bren Foster.[41]

Comic book series[edit]

Mad Max: Fury Road is a limited comic book series created by George Miller, Nico Lathouris, and Mark Sexton. Serving as a prequel to the 2015 film of the same name, the series focuses on several of the film's characters. It consists of four issues. Beginning in May 2015, Vertigo published one issue per month, ending in August. A single-volume collection of all of the issues was published on 26 August. Reception of the series has been mixed; some consider it unnecessary and poorly executed, and many harshly criticised the issue centred on Imperator Furiosa. However, the issue focused on Nux and Immortan Joe and the two issues focused on Max Rockatansky were received more positively.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lyttelton, Oliver. "5 Things You Might Not Know About 'Mad Max'". The Playlist. Archived from the original on 14 July 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  2. ^ Formica, Serena (1 April 2012). Peter Weir: A Creative Journey from Australia to Hollywood. Bristol: Intellect Ltd. p. 79. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  3. ^ Conterio, Martyn (7 May 2015). "Mad Max: from the Ozploitation wilderness to the mainstream". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  4. ^ Leonard Maltin. Introduction by Leonard Maltin (Videotape). Warner Home Video. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  5. ^ Bibbiani, William (23 March 2015). "SXSW 2015 Interview: George Miller on Mad Max, 'Fury Road' and the Apocalypse". CraveOnline. p. 4. Archived from the original on 21 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  6. ^ Davis, Erik (14 May 2015). "Interview: Director George Miller Answers All Your Big 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Questions". Fandango. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  7. ^ "All revved up for Max's return". Herald Sun. 18 May 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  8. ^ Steadman, Ian (5 March 2013). "Fragile Namibian deserts 'damaged' by Mad Max film crew". Wired UK. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  9. ^ Vaughan, Owen (13 June 2012). "Charlize Theron shaves it all off for Mad Max 4". Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  10. ^ Turner, Brook (25 November 2011). "George Miller's new script". The Australian Financial Review. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^
  13. ^ Miranda Collinge (30 March 2015). "Tom Hardy Is Esquire's May Cover Star". Esquire. Archived from the original on 31 March 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  14. ^ McNary, Dave (18 May 2015). "George Miller Promises 'More Max,' Starting With 'Mad Max: The Wasteland'". Variety. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  15. ^ "No Furiosa in Mad Max Fury Road sequel". 12 October 2015.
  16. ^ "Crisis Averted: George Miller Will Return for More 'Mad Max'". Collider. 14 January 2016.
  17. ^ "Returning to the road with Mad Max's original adventures". GamesRadar. 12 May 2015. Archived from the original on 14 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  18. ^ Guerrasio, Jason (12 May 2015). "How this actor ended up playing 2 different villains in the 'Mad Max' franchise 36 years apart". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 14 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  19. ^ "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior Trivia". Archived from the original on 26 March 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  20. ^ a b c "Film Victoria – Australian Films at the Australian Box Office" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 February 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  21. ^ "Mad Max (1980)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  22. ^ Haenni, Sabine; Barrow, Sarah; White, John, eds. (2014). "Mad Max (1979)". The Routledge Encyclopedia of Films. Routledge. pp. 323–326. ISBN 9781317682615.
  23. ^ "The Road Warrior". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  24. ^ a b "Foreign Vs. Domestic Rentals". Variety. 11 January 1989. p. 24.
  25. ^ a b "Australian Top Rentals". Variety. 2 May 1990. p. 234.
  26. ^ "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  27. ^ "Crack in the Net – Facts". Mad Maxed. Archived from the original on 24 August 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  28. ^ "Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  29. ^ "Mad Max". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  30. ^ "Mad Max". Metacritic. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  31. ^ "Mad Max 2". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  32. ^ "The Road Warrior". Metacritic. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  33. ^ "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  34. ^ "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome". Metacritic. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  35. ^ "Mad Max: Fury Road". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  36. ^ "Mad Max: Fury Road". Metacritic. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  37. ^ CinemaScore Archived from the original on 9 August 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  38. ^ "Mad Max Memorabilia". Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  39. ^ Stratton, David (1990). The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry. Macmillan Publishers. p. 82. ISBN 0-73-2902509.
  40. ^ Vieth, Errol; Moran, Albert (25 October 2005). Historical Dictionary of Australian and New Zealand Cinema. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 400.
  41. ^ Goldfarb, Andrew (10 June 2013). "E3 2013: Mad Max Announced for PlayStation 4". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 8 April 2015.