Warner Bros. really stepped in it when they announced that their entire 2021 slate would be released simultaneously in theaters and free on HBO Max. The result was predictable; with very few exceptions most of their films tanked as people chose to watch them comfortably at home for no cost. Filmmakers complained, issued threats, etc., but only Village Roadshow, the studio behind The Matrix Resurrections, is angry enough to take real legal action over it.
Variety reports Village Roadshow has sued Warner Bros. over The Matrix Resurrections‘ release strategy, which they say hurt the bottom line and “inflicted serious harm” on the franchise. The film opened in December and to date has only earned $155M worldwide, a bomb by any measure, and likely a deathknell to any sequels and could lead to Village Roadshow losing the franchise rights.
“WB’s 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 suit claims. “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.”
Of course, Warner Bros. refuted the claims, stating “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 favor.”
So what happens next? Probably what always happens in these situations where big money numbers are being tossed around. A backroom deal will get ironed out and this will all go away. And really, does ANYONE think this means the end of The Matrix? Me neither.