George Miller lost interest in the project, after his friend and Producer Byron Kennedy was killed in a helicopter crash while location scouting. That may explain why Miller only handled the action scenes, while George Ogilvie handled the rest. The film is dedicated to Byron Kennedy.
The sandstorm at the end of the film was real, and a camera plane flew into it for some shots. The storm, in its entirety, hit the crew in the desert, forcing them to ride it out in their cars and wherever they could find cover.
The film was originally not a "Mad Max" film, but a post-apocalyptic "Lord of the Flies" film about a tribe of children who are found by an adult. It became the third Mad Max film when George Miller was suggested that Max is the man who finds the children.
Max's eyes are different; the pupil in his left eye is permanently dilated. This is a nod to The Road Warrior (1981): When his car is forced off the road by Wez and Max crashes, he suffers a severe injury to, among other body parts, his left eye. The disparity is easier to see in close-ups, and very easy to see in high definition versions of the film. In the regular version, it's most prominent when Max first looks down on the Thunderdome.
The script called for Aunt Entity drive a vehicle. All of the vehicles were built using manual transmissions, which Tina Turner couldn't drive, so a car equipped with an automatic transmission had to be constructed.
In interviews about The Road Warrior (1981), George Miller said that while Max's world was after the collapse of the social/political/economic system we know, it was not post-World War III. However, per Dr. Dealgood's introduction in the Thunderdome, this film is explicitly set after a war, though not necessarily World War III.
When Max first meets Aunty, a saxophone is heard playing, the camera then reveals that the music is not the soundtrack, but happening within the movie itself, as one of Aunty's men is playing it. This is a nod to Mad Max (1979), where Max's wife, playing the saxophone, is revealed in the same way.
Jedidiah's airplane is a Transavia PL-12 "Airtruk", a single-engine agricultural biplane designed by Transavia in Australia. First flown in 1965, around one hundred twenty had been built by the time this movie was made.
This is the first Mad Max film in which Max uses a firearm other than a shotgun. As an MFP officer in Mad Max (1979), Max carried a revolver, but always reached for a shotgun - including his iconic sawed-off shotgun - when the need for a weapon arose. In The Road Warrior (1981), Max only used the sawed-off shotgun.
It is a popular misbelief, that the vehicle Max is seen driving at the beginning, and end of the film, is based on a Ford F-150. However, a modified early to mid '70s model Australian Ford Fairlane ZF-ZG was used as the base vehicle. Although the exterior of the car has been heavily modified, the vehicle is identified through the remaining pieces of the cars interior. These include a curved dashboard and ignition switch, along with steering column positioning (common style of Australian Ford model's between the years 1971 to 1976,) Along with the a ZG seat trim and steering wheel. This can be confirmed through close-ups of the interior during the final chase sequence. The ZG Fairlane shares a very similar body style, chassis and engine [351 cubic inch, (5.7 liter) Cleveland V8] to Max's original yellow Interceptor used in "Mad Max." Making all three of the main vehicles used by Max in each film a similar variation of each other (Australian Model Ford V8, mid '70s Sedan, Coupe).
The film's theme, "We Don't Need Another Hero", sung by Tina Turner, reached number two on the U.S. charts, number three on the UK charts, and number one in Australia, in the summer of 1985. The song was recorded in London, England, with a backing choir from Kings House School containing, amongst others, a then twelve year old Lawrence Dallaglio. Dallaglio would go on to be a hugely successful rugby union player in England, playing domestically for Wasps RFC, and a member of the English World Cup winning side in 2003.
It was rumored, that the sequel, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) takes place after Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985). However, in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985), Max is about forty years old, and in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Max is in his mid 30s.
In Australia this film is simply referred to as "Mad Max 3". There are four films in the franchise, so far. Mad Max (1979) is the first. The second film, The Road Warrior (1981), was released in the United States as simply The Road Warrior (released and referred to as Mad Max 2 in Australia). It was not marketed as a Mad Max film upon its American release, for fear of its foreign credentials hurting its U.S. box-office. This has caused confusion for Americans who thought it was just a stand alone film, but it is definitely the second in the Mad Max franchise, all produced and directed by George Miller. IMDB now lists the second film as "The Road Warrior". Quentin Tarantino, a teenager when it was released, accidentally calls it "The Road Warrior", before correcting himself and calling it "Mad Max 2" in the documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (2008), which explored Australian exploitation cinema. The recently released Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) is the fourth in the franchise, and the first to not star Mel Gibson.
The kids assume Max to be the savior who brings them to the civilization known as "Tomorrow-morrow Land." The film Tomorrowland (2015) released just one week after the next installment Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Two scenes were cut from the film to bring down the running time. In the first, Max dreams of his murdered wife and son, wakes up and cries. He realizes he's become just as bad as the animals he used to hunt down as a cop. The other, is Max takes a dying gekko to the top of a sand dune at night, sees the lights of Bartertown, and tells him they've reached Tomorrow-Morrow Land. A few seconds of this scene are included in the music video for Tina Turner's "We Don't Need Another Hero."
The film was intended to be the final chapter of the "Mad Max' franchise, with Mel Gibson bowing out of the role of Max, and ending with Max regaining his humanity and walking away into the sunset, and so it was, until George Miller made the third sequel, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).
It is unexplained on why Max did not kill Blaster in the film. It's possible, Blaster reminded Max of Benno, the autistic farmhand who was living at May Swaisey's farm in Mad Max (1979), when Jesse and Sprog were murdered by The Toecutter and his motorcycle gang, or there may have still had been humanity left in Max, and Max felt it was wrong and inhuman to kill the mentally disabled Blaster. Some believe that Benno and Blaster are the same character, despite being played by different actors, and it's possible Benno may have survived the nuclear war.