Lawsuit: Warner Let Matrix Sequel Bomb at Box Office

Co-producer says company 'desperately' wanted to boost HBO Max subscriptions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2022 8:48 PM CST
Lawsuit: Sequel's Release Has Hurt Entire Matrix Franchise
This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in a scene from "The Matrix Resurrections."   (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

Warner Bros. bungled the release of The Matrix Resurrections so badly that it damaged the entire Matrix franchise, co-producer Village Roadshow claims in a lawsuit against Warner. The Australian company accuses Warner of wrecking the sequel's chances of box office success by releasing it on HBO Max at the same time it was in theaters, as Warner did with its other 2021 releases, the Guardian reports. The lawsuit accuses Warner of moving the release date up to 2021 from 2022 to create a "desperately needed wave of year-end HBO Max premium subscriptions from what it knew would be a blockbuster film."

The movie, which was co-financed by Village Roadshow and cost around $190 million to make, has earned just $37 million in the US and around $153 million worldwide, compared to more than $740 million earned by 2003's The Matrix Reloaded. The lawsuit says 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 company, which is suing for breach of contract, says Warner was aware that releasing the movie on its streaming service the same day it opened in theaters, would "decimate box office revenue" and lead to "rampant piracy," reports the Wall Street Journal. Village Roadshow says it has invested more than $4.5 billion in making movies with Warner over the last 25 years, but Warner has been "devising various schemes" to cut it out of follow-ups to works it co-owns, including Edge of Tomorrow. A Warner spokesperson described the lawsuit as a "frivolous attempt" by Village Roadshow to avoid its commitment to taking part in arbitration proceedings. (More Warner Bros. stories.)

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