Original Mad Max roaring into the Palace
With Mad Max: Fury Road set to roar into theaters May 15, Wichita's going to get an opportunity to see George Miller's original Mad Max at the Palace Theatre at 7, 9:15 and 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights.
Initially released in 1979, Mad Max became a cult sensation, launching Mel Gibson to stardom and marking George Miller as a new director of note.
Wichita Big Screen Initiative founder Leif Jonker said that very few in America ever realized what a huge hit the film was overseas.
"It actually outgrossed Star Wars during its run in Australia," Jonker said, "as well as in a few other European countries. It introduced a whole new level of high-octane, over-the-top vehicular mayhem and a teetering on the edge of destruction style of cinematography that still resonates and influences cinema today. The coming of Mad Max: Fury Road most clearly illustrates this point."
Jonker said that the distributors who originally picked the film up for distribution in the U.S. redubbed the dialogue with American voice actors for fear audiences wouldn't be able to understand the heavy Australian accents.
"I believe it hurt the film and how it was received here," Jonker said. "In 1981 when I went to see a sneak preview of the sequel almost a year before it came out in the states, the title was kept a secret. As soon as the title card Mad Max 2 came up, the whole theater audibly groaned. A few minutes later, of course, the movie had won them over, but that initial reaction is clearly why Warner Brothers changed the title to The Road Warrior."
In the U.S. The Road Warrior has long been the standard-bearer of the franchise, with the later entry Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome coming a close second in recognizability if not overall fan preference.
For the Palace Theater screenings, Jonker said that the original Australian version — accents and all — would be presented.
"I'm very excited that, all these years later, these special screenings will be the first time the original Australian version, with all the actors' actual voices, will finally play on a big screen in Wichita.
So, if you're wondering how Max got Mad in the first place before he took a lovely day's drive down Fury Road, crank up your V8 Interceptor (or riced out Geo Metro if it comes to that) and head out to the Palace, 353 South Ridge Road Circle, to see how it all began.