CANNES, France, May 14 (Reuters) - Director George Miller has come close to confirming there could be more to come in his "Mad Max" franchise, saying he has additional storylines kicking around in his head after completing "Mad Max: Fury Road".
Asked if the expected huge U.S. opening this weekend of the fourth installment in the saga meant the series would continue, Miller said it was like asking a woman who had just had a painful birth when she planned to have another baby.
"I'm just not recovered enough to get into it," he told a news conference, ahead of its glitzy, out-of-competition screening at the Cannes Film Festival later on Thursday.
"But you know these characters live in your head and we've got a lot of back stories and if we have time again to go out into the wasteland there are other films we will want to do. Yes, so that's the answer I can give at this moment now -- I've just come out of labour."
Miller, 70, had a huge hit with the original trio of "Mad Max" films, the first of which came out in 1979, starring fellow Australian Mel Gibson as the road warrior of the title battling for survival in a dystopian future.
In the reboot, which was years in the planning and making, Tom Hardy plays Max, supplanting Gibson who, according to trade reports, was deemed to be too old for the role.
Miller sought to dispel rumours of a rift between him and Gibson, saying that the "Braveheart" star who has become a director in his own right ("The Passion of the Christ") sat beside him at the latest Mad Max premiere in Los Angeles, and was chuckling at times and digging Miller in the ribs.
"He gave me great respect... I think he's wonderful," Miller said.
Hardy said he'd felt at times at sea during filming in the Namibian desert because there was little written dialogue and the scenes were shot in extremely short takes, sometimes lasting only a few seconds.
"There was no way George could have explained what he could see on the set when we were out there," Hardy said, adding that it was only when he saw the finished product that he realised what Miller's intentions had been.
"I knew he was brilliant, but I never knew how brilliant until I saw that," Hardy said.
Initial reviews of the new movie have been highly positive.
"It's all great fun, and quite rousing as well," wrote the New York Times. "Worth waiting 30 years for," said Wired, while Britain's Guardian newspaper said it was like "a rollicking Grand Theft Auto revamped by Hieronymus Bosch."
Pundits predict it will open in the $40 million range this weekend in the United States. (Editing by Crispian Balmer)