Village Roadshow Entertainment, co-producer of “Matrix Resurrections”, has filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros., arguing that the theatrical exploitation of the film was sacrificed for the benefit of the HBO Max platform, thus causing its failure at the box office.
Matrix Resurrectionsa failure that does not pass
There was a time – happy – when only the performance of a film in theaters existed. The number of tickets sold and the rain of dollars at the box office then indicated the objective success of a film. With the streaming platforms, and the arrival in the equation of the COVID pandemic, the exploitation of films has been turned upside down.
At Warner, it was thus decided that all 2021 films would be released simultaneously in theaters and on the HBO Max platform. So it was the case of Dunes of The Suicide Squadron even Godzilla Vs. Kong. Matrix Resurrections also met the same fate, released on December 22, 2021, but unfortunately was a resounding flop in theaters, as on the HBO Max platform.
Indeed, it only counted 2.8 million views in its first week for Lana Wachowski’s film. A very disappointing figure, when we know that for example, mortal combat has 3.8 million views in its first three days of availability.
An overall failure of the film that some had seen coming, but which annoys Village Roadshow Entertainment, co-producing company of Matrix Resurrectionsthe latter seeing in this failure an important responsibility of Warner.
With a 190 million budget for world box office receipts cumulating $155 million, failure in theaters is stinging and painful. In addition to the simultaneous release, it is retained that Matrix Resurrections was released only a week after the war machine Spider-Man: No Way Home, a choice of calendar considered doubtful.
The producers of Village Roadshow Entertainment have thus filed a complaint against WarnerMedia, accusing them of having deliberately sacrificed the career of the film in theaters, for the benefit of the HBO Max platform.
A lawsuit comparable to Johansson vs. Disney
The complaint, which can be read in detail and in VO here enroll yourself in the lineage of the action brought – since settled – by Scarlett Johansson against Disneyrelating to the simultaneous release in cinemas and on Disney+ of Black Widow in July 2021.
But Warner is not Disney and the franchise Matrix is not the franchise of the MCU, and for its publicity, Village Roadshow Entertainment’s complaint is not embodied by a planetary celebrity like Scarlett Johansson. Warner immediately and confidently responded to the complaint:
This is a futile attempt by Village Roadshow Entertainment to evade their commitments to participate in the arbitration we initiated last week. We have no doubt that the dispute will be settled in our favor.
As partners of very long-standing, Warner and Village Roadshow Entertainment have indeed in their association an arbitration clause in the event of disputes, but Village Roadshow Entertainment maintains that this one does not apply in this precise case.
If a legal action of this order is a first for Warner, the studio is very sensitive to the subject. Without any action having been taken at the time, the producers of Dunes and of Godzilla Vs. Kong, in particular, also criticized the pro-streaming strategy in 2021 and waved the threat of legal action. Warner compensated dozens of partners for a total of 200 million dollars in anticipations of diminished theatrical revenues.