‘Mad Max’ Director Readies for Fifth Installment in ‘Addictive’ Series 

Australian director George Miller speaks as he receives CinemaCon International Filmmaker of the Year Award at International Day Programming during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners at Caesars Palace on April 8, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)
Australian director George Miller speaks as he receives CinemaCon International Filmmaker of the Year Award at International Day Programming during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners at Caesars Palace on April 8, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)
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‘Mad Max’ Director Readies for Fifth Installment in ‘Addictive’ Series 

Australian director George Miller speaks as he receives CinemaCon International Filmmaker of the Year Award at International Day Programming during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners at Caesars Palace on April 8, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)
Australian director George Miller speaks as he receives CinemaCon International Filmmaker of the Year Award at International Day Programming during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners at Caesars Palace on April 8, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)

Australian director George Miller described his "Mad Max" series as "addictive" on Monday as he prepares to premiere the fifth film set in its high-octane, post-apocalyptic world with the highly anticipated "Furiosa."

"Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga," out late May, is an origin story for the tough female warrior first played by Charlize Theron in 2015's Oscar-winning blockbuster "Mad Max: Fury Road."

The younger Furiosa will be portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy, best known to wider audiences from the hit Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit."

The movie will receive a glitzy world premiere at the Cannes film festival early next month, but Miller shared a few early details about the prequel at the CinemaCon movie theater convention in Las Vegas on Monday.

Miller said the idea stemmed from the intense preparations that went into "Fury Road," for which he sketched out detailed childhoods and journeys for each character in order to help actors and crew navigate the world.

"We had to understand everything about what we see on the screen -- not only the backstory of every character, but every prop, every vehicle, every gesture," said Miller.

When "Fury Road" was a hit, grossing $380 million and winning six Oscars, Miller realized that the movie's backstory was "a rich story to tell" in its own right.

In the new plot, young Furiosa has been kidnapped from her home, and gets caught up in a battle between Immortan Joe -- the villain of "Fury Road" -- and his rival Dementus, played by Chris Hemsworth, of "Thor" fame.

It is the latest twist in a long road for a franchise that began with 1979's "Mad Max" starring a young, leather-clad Mel Gibson, who does battle with vicious biker gangs.

Miller was working as a medical doctor in his native Australia at the time, and the young cinephile was deeply affected by the many road accident victims he encountered in the hospital.

With an ultra-low budget, Miller could not afford to shoot in major cities, and was forced to improvise a deserted, post-societal collapse landscape.

"That was a really lucky thing, but because accidentally, the film -- which otherwise would have been present-day, naturalistic -- turned out to be more allegorical, unwittingly," recalled Miller, now 79.

"And that's sort of what led to 'Mad Max,' and that's why we're still doing them. Because they're very addictive."

'Uniquely familiar'

The initial movie grossed $100 million. Its global success led to "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior" in 1981 and "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" in 1985.

The fast-paced, violent films drew on a visual language that audiences around the world could follow without needing much in the way of subtitles or dubbing.

"In Japan, 'Mad Max' was regarded as some sort of samurai. The French called it a 'Western on wheels.' In Scandinavia, he was a Viking," said Miller.

A fourth installment was a long time coming, as Miller tried his hand at wildly diverse films, including family movies like "Babe" and "Happy Feet."

"Fury Road" eventually arrived in 2015. The character of Max, now played by Tom Hardy, was relegated to second fiddle by Theron's tough-as-nails Furiosa.

With strong feminist themes, jaw-dropping effects and meticulously choreographed action sequences, it premiered at the prestigious Cannes festival and went on to earn 10 Oscar nominations, including for best picture and best director.

"Furiosa," Miller told the CinemaCon audience, "is different."

"You don't want a film to be a repetition of what you've just done... it has to be 'uniquely familiar,' as I like to say."



Spanish Fan Shows Off His Taylor Swift 'Sanctuary' Before Madrid Gig

Roberto Santos, 55, a Spanish superfan who is part of a select list of fans who receives exclusive gifts from the pop icon, poses in his "Taylor Swift shrine" in his home in Madrid, Spain, May 21, 2024. REUTERS/Juan Medina
Roberto Santos, 55, a Spanish superfan who is part of a select list of fans who receives exclusive gifts from the pop icon, poses in his "Taylor Swift shrine" in his home in Madrid, Spain, May 21, 2024. REUTERS/Juan Medina
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Spanish Fan Shows Off His Taylor Swift 'Sanctuary' Before Madrid Gig

Roberto Santos, 55, a Spanish superfan who is part of a select list of fans who receives exclusive gifts from the pop icon, poses in his "Taylor Swift shrine" in his home in Madrid, Spain, May 21, 2024. REUTERS/Juan Medina
Roberto Santos, 55, a Spanish superfan who is part of a select list of fans who receives exclusive gifts from the pop icon, poses in his "Taylor Swift shrine" in his home in Madrid, Spain, May 21, 2024. REUTERS/Juan Medina

Roberto Santos, 55, stands out among other "Swifties" for his decades-long devotion to American pop icon Taylor Swift and a plethora of gifts the Spaniard has received from her team in recognition of that - enough to fill up an apartment room he calls a sanctuary.
As Swift, 34, was preparing to play her Eras Tour gigs in Madrid on Wednesday and Thursday, Santos, who runs a dental prosthetics lab in Spain's capital, solemnly displayed the items, including Swift's limited-edition platinum disk award, signed photos, recordings, and sneakers bearing both their names, said Reuters.
"Sometimes I wake up at night, turn on the light and look a little, and say to myself: 'What are you doing?'... I just look, it gives me calm, and I go back to sleep," Santos said in an interview.
"For me she means everything; I've been following her since before 2011... I had the gut feeling that she was going to be big. If I had the same intuition with the lottery, I'd be rich," Santos said.
He said going to see her perform in Dublin in 2018 made him the only person to have traveled twice from Spain for a Swift show. Her management team then added Santos and his wife Inmaculada to an exclusive fan list, and sent them gifts and invitations, including an all-paid trip to Los Angeles last year, Santos said.
"If I was 18 or 20, I imagine I could go a bit crazy... but now everything feels more mature and calm," said Santos, who has Swift-themed tattoos on his arms and ankle.
He has yet to meet her in person. A planned meeting in Oslo was canceled due to the pandemic.
Santos is particularly thankful to Swift and her team for thinking about older fans, and for "the values she has transmitted" through her art.
Swift's record-breaking Eras Tour has boosted local economies. In Madrid, hotel occupancy rates have climbed to 90% on average for the concert dates.