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Almost every bigger-budget picture hinges on “disaster.” Two or three wrong steps can prove very costly, forcing a studio to throw money at problems. The gaping hole of a runaway budget can be devastating. And so when there’s new that a Warner Bros. representative is being sent to Africa to reportedly keep one of the studio’s major tent poles on track, there’s reasonable cause for alarm.

THR says that producer Denise Di Novi “has been assigned to the Mad Max movie” after studio head Jeff Robinov visited the Namibia set and came back with concerns. Though this isn’t uncommon, George Miller’s sequel is “at least five days behind schedule” already, and is starting to run over budget. But Rabinov downplays Di Novi’s involvement, simply saying to the trade, “It's easier having someone there who has experience and who can keep us posted on the day's events.”

Stepping back and looking at the big picture, it’s a little easy to understand why Rabinov would be concerned. While THR says that the budget for the fourth Mad Max will stay between $100M and $125M, and production will wrap in November, Miller’s isn’t exactly a household name like Steven Spielberg or James Cameron. The franchise also hasn’t been relevant since 1985 (when Beyond Thunderdome) opened. And the series is trading Mel Gibson for Tom Hardy, who still hasn’t proven himself as a bankable movie star who is able to open movies on his own.

Now, these delays are not staggering. And Miller easily can deliver a riveting Mad Max story. But for now, Warner seems to be keeping this escalating sequel on a short leash. Let’s hope it doesn’t affect the final product.
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