The Matrix Resurrections wasn't a particularly good movie, which was evident from the mixed response from fans and critics alike. It also got steamrolled at the box office by Spider-Man: No Way Home, though the fact it was available for free on HBO Max meant it would always ultimately underperform at the box office.
Now, things just took a complicated turn with the news that Village Roadshow, a co-producer on Lana Wachowski's fourth entry into the franchise, is suing Warner Bros. for breach of contract. In fact, the studio goes so far as to accuse them of a larger plot to distance the companies and the intellectual properties they share.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Village Roadshow believes Warner Bros. knowingly moved The Matrix Resurrections from 2022 to 2021 as a way to boost HBO Max subscribers (knowing it would result in lower box office takings). As a result, they feel the decision hurt both their financial returns and the franchise itself.
"WB’s sole purpose in moving the release date of The Matrix Resurrections forward was to create a desperately needed wave of year-end HBO Max premium subscriptions from what it knew would be a blockbuster film, despite knowing full well that it would decimate the film’s box office revenue and deprive Village Roadshow of any economic upside that WB and its affiliates would enjoy," the lawsuit reads adding that this is part of an ongoing effort to "eviscerate the significant value of Village Roadshow’s intellectual property in order to prop up the new HBO Max streaming service."
What do they mean by that? Well, they add that Warner Bros. has pushed for Wonka not to be recognised as a prequel to Roadshow's Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (thereby distancing them from it). A dispute over the Edge of Tomorrow franchise is also mentioned that's now left its future very much in doubt after Warner Bros. pushed to gain exclusive rights to the property.
As for Warner Bros.' response, a spokesperson for the studio said today, "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." After 25 years together that's seen them make 91 movies, it seems their relationship could soon end.
This should be an interesting case to keep an eye on, anyway, particularly in the wake of Scarlett Johansson's legal battle against Disney over Black Widow's streaming debut (that was ultimately settled out of court). Roadshow clearly feels it has a legitimate gripe against Warner Bros. based on this lawsuit, so we'll be sure to keep you in the loop with the latest updates!