EXCLUSIVE: Fourth ‘Mad Max’ In Development…As 3-D Anime Feature

Good ol’ Mad Max: post-apocalyptic gun-slinger with a need for blood-thirsty revenge! MTV News’ #4 Movie Badass of All Time! And…star of a 3-D anime feature film?!

Unlikely as that last one sounds, some big screen animated “Max” action is shaping up to become a reality, according to George Miller, the writer/director of the previous three films. The catch? He doesn’t want Max himself, Mel Gibson, anywhere near the project.

“We’ll probably go a different route,” Miller told MTV News about the potential talent voicing the lead role. The plot would be partly lifted from the script of the fourth “Max” film, which was set to shoot in 2003 until financing collapsed in the wake of the Iraq War.

Now Miller is resurrecting the idea as an R-rated, stereoscopic anime flick for theatrical release. It’s a curious undertaking, to be sure, but one made all the more certain to happen after the runaway success in 2006 of his computer-animated “Happy Feet”—not that the newest, ever-violent “Max” film will have much in common with that kid-friendly penguin party.

“I see myself as someone who is very curious about storytelling and all its various media,” Miller said. “I’ve always loved anime, in particular the Japanese sensibility. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

The project is one phase of a “Mad Max” renaissance of sorts. Along with “God of War II” designer Cory Barlog, Miller is developing an action-adventure videogame based on the fourth film. Gibson won’t be participating in that endeavor, either.

For the anime release, Miller isn’t looking simply to mimic Japanese-style animation but rather to adapt it for Western audiences. “The anime is an opportunity for me to shift a little bit about what anime is doing because anime is ripe for an adjustment or sea change,” he explained. “It’s coming in games and I believe it’s the same in anime. There’s going to be a hybrid anime where it shifts more towards Western sensibilities. [Japanese filmmaker Akira] Kurosawa was able to bridge that gap between the Japanese sensibilities and the West and make those definitive films.”

It’s been 23 years since we last tasted some fresh “Mad Max” goodness, but neither the anime nor the game will be arriving soon enough to satisfy our hunger for the rage-filled Australian vigilante. “I’ve got a couple of years left,” said Miller. “We’re in the early stages writing and designing. A really good game you need two and half years. And for good anime you need two years.

3D anime “Mad Max”—awesome idea or awesomest? But will it — can it?? — be the same without Mel Gibson’s voice?