A Mad Max: Fury Road black and white release can’t save WB from itself
You really have to wonder what kind of tests the executives at Warner Bros undergo to earn their jobs. It can’t be very strenuous. Maybe it’s just a series of colors and objects, and the first candidate that decides the best way to solve the puzzle is to ignore that there is a puzzle and just wonder off wins.
That seems to be the prevailing sentiment at WB these days, and execs seem to be anywhere from three to 15 months behind audiences on what it should and shouldn’t do. It’s a level of tone deafness that borders on psychosis. It’s almost impressive in a stupid sort of way.
In a rather stunning turn of events, WB has actually decided to listen to its fans (and the film’s director) and release a Mad Max: Fury Road black and white version. Well, maybe.
The reveal comes from Empire Online, which is basing the news on an upcoming Amazon Germany link to a six-disc Mad Max boxset, which lists the four movies alongside a fifth titled “Black and Chrome.” That’s also the name of the fan-made Mad Max: Fury Road black and white version that was briefly posted online before WB had it removed. It’s not clear what the sixth disc would be, but a special features offering would be an obvious fit.
The fan-made version came to life following Fury Road director George Miller’s assertion that his favorite way to watch the movie is a black and white version with no music. Naturally, the internet responded quickly, hence the unauthorized “Black and Chrome.” The fan film was released in September and quickly made international news, with thousands of views in just a few hours. It’s a little odd that the studio would use a name created by a fan, but it is catchy and already has some traction, so maybe not
The link to the boxset was only a pre-order listing with no release date or price, and it has since been removed. There was no mention of a release anywhere outside of Germany, but none of that is especially surprising. Assuming the link is accurate – and it seems like it probably is – the listing was most likely posted in error ahead of schedule; it happens all the time. That would mean an official announcement is imminent.
Well, imminent a mere 14 months or so after the film was released in theaters.
Part of what makes this unconfirmed news convincing is that it is so dumb and so late that it feels like a WB move. Assuming the release happens, it will have taken a year and change for WB to do something fans and the film’s director have been loudly and repeatedly asking the studio to do, and something that will make it a decent sum of money for very little investment.
You can argue that the time has been spent making the best possible adaptation for release, but that’s silly talk. As noted above, director George Miller already confirmed that there is a black and white copy in existence. He even went on to say that “the best version of this movie is black and white.”
Mad Max: Fury Road went on to win six Academy Awards, the most of any film released in 2015. Many of those awards were technical, which would seem like the perfect time to release a special edition built around a technical change to the film. The hardcore fans will probably still be interested regardless of when it may be released, but if ever there were a time to build on the film’s post-release momentum it would have been after it won several awards.
Instead, WB ignored it completely. And that’s not even a little surprising.
This is the same studio that saw an advanced screening of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and loved it so much that it had analysts suggesting a possible total box office of over $2 billion. It’s the same studio that heard all the criticisms about Batman v Superman and still kept Zack Snyder in charge of Justice League, arguably the studio’s most important film in decades, at least financially speaking.
It’s the same studio that decided to pass on Pacific Rim: Maelstrom after the original earned a cult following and did huge numbers overseas, potentially opening the Chinese market to the studio. It’s the same studio that hired a writer and director for The Flash, then quickly alienated and fired him. This the same studio that approved splitting The Hobbit into three films, nearly retroactively ruining the franchise (although that blame is probably more on Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema, but WB sure didn’t help).
It’s also the same studio that released 25 movies in 2015, only four of which cracked $100 million domestically, and only six passed that mark globally. It was a bad year, built on bad decisions, something that is becoming a signature of the studio.
WB does have several promising films on the way, but that is obviously no guarantee of success – as evidenced by past results.
In 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road was one of the few bright spots for WB, so naturally, WB did nothing to try to build on that release. Better late than never though – assuming it actually follows through and releases the new version of the film. But given WB’s history, there is no guarantee of that.