In a stark reminder of the disconnect between Hollywood and mainstream audiences, the recent release of “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” has flopped spectacularly at the box office. This prequel to the 2015 hit “Mad Max: Fury Road” failed to resonate with moviegoers, leading to one of the worst Memorial Day weekends in nearly 25 years. As a result, the future of the “Mad Max” franchise is now hanging in the balance.

Despite an eye-watering $160 million production budget, “Furiosa” managed to scrape together only $70 million globally over the Memorial Day weekend. This lackluster performance falls drastically short of breaking even, especially when marketing and promotional expenses are taken into account. The grim financials have prompted the studio to hit pause on future plans for the sequel, “Mad Max: The Wasteland,” as they reassess the viability of continuing the saga.

George Miller, the creator of the “Mad Max” series, had previously stated that the future of the franchise depended on the success of “Furiosa.” He noted, “I’ll definitely wait to see how this [Furiosa] goes, before we even think about it.” Given the dismal box office returns, it seems that future installments are now in serious jeopardy.

A theater executive suggested a more prudent approach for the “Mad Max” franchise: reducing budgets and focusing on its loyal fan base instead of attempting to ignite new interest. “IP like Mad Max and Ghostbusters is old, and they have the fans they’re going to have. If studios can budget to that, they might make some decent money,” the executive told The Hollywood Reporter.

The absence of Charlize Theron, who starred in “Fury Road,” is also being blamed for the film’s failure to draw substantial crowds. A studio insider noted, “I think Furiosa suffered without Charlize. People who see the movie love it. The problem is getting them into theaters. She would have been able to do that.” Another Hollywood executive echoed this sentiment, stating, “Fury Road was an outlier in the series. It also had a hot young star and a huge female star. Nine years later, it had neither.”

The broader context for “Furiosa’s” flop is an entertainment industry still reeling from the pandemic. Theaters and studios alike are closely monitoring how major releases perform, hoping for a return to pre-pandemic success. Box office analyst Eric Handler of Roth Capital pointed to upcoming releases as potential saviors, saying, “Let’s see what happens next year with Mission: Impossible and in 2026 with the next Star Wars movie.”

Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore remains optimistic that upcoming high-profile films could turn the tide for the box office. “This fever will hopefully break in June and July with an overperformance by at least one of the high-profile films to get the wind back in the sails of the box office,” he said.

Despite its poor financial performance, “Furiosa” has garnered a 90 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes from both critics and audiences. The film’s plot follows young Furiosa, snatched from the Green Place of Many Mothers, as she battles her way home amidst a war between two tyrants, Dementus and Immortan Joe. However, critical acclaim alone was not enough to save this film from its box office woes.

As Hollywood grapples with the fallout from this latest failure, it serves as a potent reminder that catering to woke agendas over audience preferences can lead to disastrous results. The fate of the “Mad Max” franchise now lies in the hands of studio executives, who must decide whether to forge ahead or leave this once-beloved series in the dust.