Warner Bros. Pictures surprised many moviegoers by announcing day-and-day releases on HBO Max and in cinemas for all of its 2021 films. One of these movies was the highly anticipated sequel, The Matrix Resurrections.
Due to its hybrid release, Variety notes that Warner Bros. is now being sued by the film's co-producer, Village Roadshow Films. The lawsuit was issued by the company in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Warner Bros Sued For HBO Max Release of The Matrix Resurrections
Village Roadshow's suit states that the move harmed the box-office intake for the sequel, in order to drive up subscribers for HBO Max:
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. 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 co-financed the film, which has only grossed just $153 million worldwide - a large sum under its reported $190 million budget (via Box Office Mojo).
In the wake of ongoing pandemic issues, many in the industry questioned whether WarnerMedia's hybrid release paid off.
On one hand, HBO Max experienced exponential growth in new subscribers reaching 73.8 million users worldwide. On the other hand, many of their tentpole movies faired poorly at the box office.
From The Suicide Squad to Space Jam: A New Legacy, these big productions barely made their budgets back, let alone additional marketing costs. The decision also prompted their superstar director, Christopher Nolan, to shift studios for his forthcoming Oppenheimer movie; marking an end to a 20-year collaboration.
2022 will likely see the end of this strategy. With The Batman on the way, Warner Bros. Is making sure to keep the DC adaptation exclusively in theatres for a certain time, before airing on its streaming service.