[UPDATE: According to Charlize Theron, the official start-date is now June 2nd. Scroll down to the bottom of the article for details.]

There hasn’t been a Mad Max film since 1985, but George Miller has officially been trying to make one – Mad Max: Fury Road – since 2003. First with Mel Gibson, and then with Tom Hardy, the man who will be Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

Hardy has been sporting a massive beard for the role for the past few months in preparation for the impending start date. Unfortunately, the film has yet to begin shooting and Hardy has no idea when it will.

Empire talked to the actor at Cannes – who’s there representing his other upcoming film Lawless, co-starring Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential, Prometheus) – about the status of the fourth Mad Max:

“We keep moving that around, you know? Who knows when it’ll come out? I’ve been on stand-by for two years…but it’s all part of [the game]. It’s kind of the cool thing to do, to be elusive with dates and all that.”

I think that was him being sarcastic.

One of the vehicles created for ‘Fury Road’

Tom Hardy continued:

“It was going to be a year of filming, then six months, and now we’re supposed to be doing it in six days. It’s a musical – we’re going to go around shopping centers in a little wagon and sing songs. People were expecting big, but we’re going to give them small. It’ll be a live, free-running musical and it’s coming to a place near you soon.”

And that was definitely sarcastic.

The comments don’t exactly inspire confidence that Mad Max fans will be seeing Fury Road anytime soon – or ever, for that matter.

In fact, the whole situation is incredibly reminiscent of Brad Pitt bearding up for Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain for a very, very long time before getting tired of waiting, jumping ship, and joining Wolfgang Petersen’s Gladiator-inspired Greek epic Troy. Thus, Aronofsky’s original iteration of The Fountain and Petersen’s Batman VS. Superman were killed simultaneously. Two movies with one stone.

Hopefully, something similar won’t happen to Mad Max: Fury Road, but it’s difficult to have hope that a production nine years in the making (arguably longer, since Beyond Thunderdome) – delayed by both the Iraq War (2003) and abnormally blooming Australian flowers antithetical to an apocalyptic landscape (2011) – will ever see the cinematic light of day.

But here’s hoping anyway.

What do you think, Screen Ranters? Are you concerned by Tom Hardy’s comments? Worried that Mad Max 4 won’t ever get out of development hell? Let us know in the comments.

Mad Max: Fury Road will – hopefully – begin production sometime soon.

UPDATE: While promoting Snow White and the Hunstman in an interview with MTV, Charlize Theron revealed that shooting for Mad Max: Fury Road begins next Saturday, June 2nd. Theron plays a one-armed lady named Furiosa, which I presume is a semi-titular name.

Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.

Sources: Empire & MTV