Warner Bros sued by The Matrix Resurrections producers for ‘decimating’ box office sales with HBO Max release

Warner Bros is being sued by production company Village Roadshow Entertainment over the release of The Matrix Resurrections on HBO Max.

The latest Matrix film, which starred Keanu Reeves, was released simultaneously in cinemas and on the streaming service in December.

On Monday (7 February), co-producers Village Roadshow filed a lawsuit at the Los Angeles Superior Court claiming that contracts had been breached and box office performance hurt by putting Resurrections on HBO Max.

They claimed that the film had originally been moved from a 2022 release to 2021 in order to drive more subscribers to the streamer.

“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 company alleged (via The Wall Street Journal).

The Matrix Resurrections underperformed at the box office, they claimed, adding that Spider-Man: No Way Home had done well in cinemas along without a secondary release on streaming.

In a statement shared with The Independent, a Warner Bros spokesperson 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.”

It’s not the first time that a film distributor has faced legal troubles over the decisions to release films on streaming during the pandemic.

In October, Disney settled a lawsuit with Scarlett Johansson after she claimed that, in simultaneously releasing Marvel superhero movie Black Widow in cinemas and on Disney Plus, they had violated her contract.

The filing alleged that Johansson’s compensation for the movie was “largely based” on Black Widow’s box office performance.