Hollywood News

The Matrix Resurrections: Village Roadshow Pictures Sues Warner Bros over Film’s Hybrid Release

Village Roadshow Pictures has sued Warner Bros over the hybrid release of The Matrix Resurrections, the fourth instalment in the Matrix franchise, which was co-produced by the two companies in association with Venus Castina Productions.


The Lana Wachowski directorial, featuring actors Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, and Priyanka Chopra, was simultaneously released in theatres and on HBO Max, on December 22, 2021.

In the lawsuit filed at Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, Village Roadshow Pictures claims that this hybrid release constitutes a breach of contract. The company also alleged that Warner Bros pushed up the film’s premiere from 2022 to 2021 in order to bolster the subscriber base for the WarnerMedia-owned streaming platform HBO Max.

“WB’s sole purpose in moving up the release date of The Matrix Resurrections 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,” read the lawsuit.

It is notable that, despite the franchise’s global fan-following, the film has only collected a little over $150 million till date, while other franchise films, such as Spider-Man: No Way Home, were able to garner worldwide collections of over $1.7 billion from their exclusive theatrical runs.

Following the filing of the lawsuit, Warner Bros issued a statement in its defence, and said, “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 favour.”

The Matrix Resurrections is last of the 17 Warner Bros films to be simultaneously released in theatres and on HBO Max, as part of the company’s strategic response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

In December 2020, the media giant announced that its 2021 line-up of films would hit cinemas across the US and be released on HBO Max at the same time. The first film to have such a hybrid release was DC’s Wonder Woman 1984


This is not the first time that a studio has come under fire from its associates for the hybrid release of a film.

After Warner Bros’ announcement of the strategy in 2020, filmmaker Christopher Nolan, whose film Tenet was produced and distributed by the company, slammed the production giant over the plan and went so far as to call HBO Max “the worst streaming service.” Nolan later jumped houses in 2021 and moved to Universal Pictures, although the real reason behind this move was not disclosed.


In July 2021, actor Scarlett Johansson sued Disney over Black Widow’s hybrid release. Johansson, who essayed the character of Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, alleged that the film’s simultaneous release in theatres and on Disney+ was a breach of her contract and prevented her from earning additional compensation on top of her $20 million fee. After a legal back-and-forth lasting a few months, the studio and actor settled out of court in October 2021 and Johansson is expected to continue working with Disney on future projects.