Lush landscape forces Mad Max to abandon the well-watered outback

To the makers of the latest Mad Max film, the harsh outback landscapes around the town of Broken Hill seemed the perfect backdrop for a movie set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Unfortunately for them, the area has received unusually heavy rains of late, creating undesirably lush and green vistas. Filming of the fourth Mad Max instalment, Fury Road, has just been postponed for the second time in four months, and is not expected to start until next year.

By then, the producers hope, the region will once again be dry and dusty. In the meantime, cast and crew have been laid off, while Broken Hill hotels – which had been booked out for the production period – are counting the cost. "Unfortunately for Max Max, what was wasteland is now this wonderful flower garden," the director, George Miller, told The Sydney Morning Herald. But he insisted the film would be made.

Industry insiders have raised doubts, citing Max Max 4's large budget and the fact that Mel Gibson is not returning to the leading role. Instead, Mad Max will be played by the British actor Tom Hardy, of Inception and Bronson. His co-stars will be Charlize Theron and Hugh Keays-Byrne.

Costs are rising daily thanks to the soaring Australian dollar.

The mayor of Broken Hill, Wincen Cuy, said he was confident that the film – expected to inject up to A$12m (£7.5m) into the local economy – would go ahead.

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