Warner Bros sued for ‘inflicting serious harm’ to The Matrix franchise
Warner Bros is being sued by funders for allegedly botching the release of The Matrix Resurrections.
The Matrix Resurrections sees writer, director and the franchise’s co-creator Lana Wachowski reboot the beloved series, starring Keanu Reeves (Neo) and Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity), although her sister Lilly Wachowski chose not to return.
The sisters are Hollywood’s most powerful trans filmmakers, having both come out in the years after the original trilogy, and Lilly has said it was the duo’s “original intention” for the original Matrix to be read as a trans narrative.
But now Village Roadshow, which co-financed the fourth film in the sci-fi series directed by the Lana Wachowski, has taken legal action over the “abysmal” box office sales of the film.
The lawsuit alleges that the poor financial returns of the film, which cost $190m to make and made just $37m in US box-office sales and $153m worldwide, are due to the decision by Warner Bros to hybrid release The Matrix Resurrections – releasing it both in cinemas and on streaming service HBO Max.
While all Warner Bros films were hybrid released in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Village Roadshow claims that doing this with The Matrix Resurrections destroyed its chances at the box office.
“[Warner Bros] strategy not only ensured that The Matrix Resurrections would be a bust at the box office, but it also inflicted serious harm to the entire Matrix franchise,” the lawsuit claims, according to The Guardian.
“There can be no doubt that the abysmal theatrical box office sales figures from The Matrix Resurrections dilute the value of this tent pole franchise as a film’s lack of profitability generally prevents studios from investing in additional sequels and derivative films in the near term.”
The film was originally scheduled to be released in April 2022, but was brought forward, the lawsuit claims, to “create a desperately needed wave of year-end HBO Max premium subscriptions”.
Village Roadshow is claiming breach of contract and also alleges that Warner Bros are “devising various schemes” to deprive Village Roadshow of profits from follow-up films in other co-owned movie franchises.
In response, Warner Bros said: “This is a frivolous attempt by Village Roadshow to avoid their contractual commitment to participate in the arbitration that we commenced against them last week.
“We have no doubt that this case will be resolved in our favour.”
The Village Roadshow lawsuit follows a similar claim by Scarlett Johansson last year, who sued Disney after marvel movie Black Widow went on streaming service Disney+ on the same day as it was released in cinemas. Johansson claimed the decision negatively impacted box office sales and therefore her payoff.
Disney settled with Johansson in October 2021.