The whole issue with distribution companies releasing films on streaming platforms rather than in theaters due to COVID-19 is definitely rearing its ugly, and this issue between Village Roadshow and Warner Bros. is just the latest one to pop up. Especially with the box office performance of The Matrix Resurrections. Or rather, the lack of it.
Village Roadshow vs. Warner Bros.: Clash of the Lawsuits
Variety has just come out with the news that Village Roadshow Pictures is officially filing a lawsuit against Warner Bros. Pictures, in which you can also read the full details of the lawsuit. Specifically: the lawsuit is over the release of The Matrix Resurrections. The film had a box office gross of nearly $154 million USD according to Box Office Mojo…against a budget of $190 million USD according to another Variety report. This makes this latest entry in the Matrix film series a box office bomb by any standard, and as a result, Village Roadshow is very unhappy about that.
Village Roadshow Picture is, in fact, suing Warner Bros. Pictures for breach of contract. They claim that Warner Bros. neither consulted nor even informed them of their decision to put The Matrix Resurrections on HBO Max before the decision went through. Basically, they accuse Warner Bros. of intentionally sabotaging the film’s box office performance and hurting the future of the series as a whole just to boost the subscription numbers for their streaming service. Furthermore, they also state that because of the poor box office performance, they can’t pay Warner Bros. what they owe for the film’s rights, which basically allow Warner Bros. to take back those rights. The lawsuit also claims that Warner Bros. is also seeking to wrest the rights for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Edge of Tomorrow from Village Roadshow, but that’s just icing on the cake at this point.
Warner Bros. Response?
Warner Bros. Pictures’ response to Village Roadshow Pictures’ lawsuit is very simple: they seek to move it into arbitration. According to Warner Bros.: “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.” Village Roadshow’s response to that response is to seek a declaration from the court claiming a breach of contract on Warner Bros.’ part.
As you can expect, this is starting to look like a pretty messy lawsuit. It’s probably going to result in Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow settling this out of court, but either way, it’s not looking good for The Matrix franchise as a whole. The poor box office performance of The Matrix Resurrections combined with its mediocre reviews makes it very unlikely that we’ll get to see another The Matrix film ever. Ah, oh well. There are always fanfics if you want a good continuation of the plot.