The Quorum

What’s Going On With FURIOSA?

When MAD MAX: FURY ROAD opened in 2015, it arrived 30 years after MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME, the last release in the dystopian franchise. On paper, it was far from a sure thing. Not only was the property unfamiliar to most people under 40, but director George Miller hadn’t had a live action hit since BABE, 20 years earlier.

But after Warner Bros. released the first trailer for FURY, it was clear the film would work. And boy, did it. FURY opened to $45M on its way to $153M domestically. It also earned ten Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and it walked away with six wins, sweeping most of the 2016 technical categories. There was also an easily marketable hook with A-list Oscar winner Charlize Theron shaving her head for the lead role.

Today we are just three months away from the release of FURIOSA, the next film in the MAD MAX series. You would think that a follow-up to one of the most beloved films of the past decade would be one of the most anticipated films of 2024. That’s why seeing the relatively soft tracking numbers for FURIOSA is so surprising. Currently, awareness for the film is at 25%, which ranks it 28th among the 57 films currently being tracked by The Quorum.

The low awareness is especially odd given that a trailer for the film was released in late November, meaning material is out there. But as this chart shows, awareness only climbed from 17% before the trailer to 21% after. And since then, it has remained stuck at 25%.

FURIOSA belongs to the tentpole group meaning we expect it to have a production budget north of $100M. The median opening weekend for films in this group is $61M. As you can see below, the average awareness for a tentpole at the same distance from release is 43%. There’s a big gap between awareness for FURIOSA and the group average.

That’s true across the board. The film is trailing the group average in all four main tracking metrics.

FURIOSA is not the only big-budget, auteur-driven sci-fi sequel. DUNE: PART TWO is only two weeks away from release. How does FURIOSA stack up against DUNE? Let’s take a look.

At the same distance from release, awareness for FURIOSA (dark yellow) is ten points lower than DUNE (light yellow). That’s a sizable gap to close.

The good news is that interest for the two films are fairly similar at three months out. FURIOSA is at 42%, while DUNE was at 44%. It’s worth pointing out that the 44% interest for DUNE wasn’t especially strong either. It’s climbed 10 points to 54% today, but DUNE didn’t look great at three months out.

And that’s the good news. Tracking at three months out helps in creating a baseline, but there is plenty of time for the numbers to rise. At this moment, however, FURIOSA looks like it will have trouble reaching the group median of $61M.

Still, it’s important to hit pause and give this more context. First, let’s reiterate that FURY didn’t have a huge opening. As noted above, it debuted to $41M. It’s also worth noting that the film took in $380M worldwide on a budget near $160M, meaning it wasn’t a huge moneymaker for the studio. At least theatrically.

The studio would certainly love to see FURIOSA perform better than its predecessor, but there are some challenges. For one thing, lead actor Anya Taylor-Joy is not a household name like Theron. She’s a compelling rising star, but she’s not there yet. And the biggest name in FURIOSA, Chris Hemsworth, is nearly unrecognizable under extensive face prosthetics.

Ultimately, the success of FURIOUSA will depend on whether the film works. Audiences were drawn to FURY because it was good. Very good. And if Miller manages to catch lightning in a bottle twice, audiences will show up for FURIOSA. There is no reason to think Warner Bros. isn’t fully committed to the film’s marketing. In the end, the tracking for the film may be exactly where they need it be. It’s just that as now, the film is starting from a surprisingly deep hole.

There’s a lot of ground to makeup and plenty of time to do it. Let’s hope they can pull it off.

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