Among the top five earners R-rated movies of all time, few have had a greater cultural impact than The matrix franchise.
From its entry into global political and cultural discourse via the concept of “red pill” revivals to its role as an allegorical touchstone of what to expect in the coming virtual realities of the metaverse, The matrix extends far beyond its cinematic origins.
But ask a movie buff what he thinks of the Matrix movies and usually they’re quick to tell you, a bit off the cuff, that they only like the first movie, not the sequels. However, the numbers do not support these claims. The Matrix Reloadedthe second film in the series, is the most successful of them all, grossing $741 million in theaters worldwide.
After this outing, things went downhill quickly, with The matrix revolutions, the third film, grossing just over half of the first sequel at $427 million. The trend continued in 2021 with The Matrix Resurrectionswhich only grossed $37 million in the United States and just $156 million worldwide.
There Was Never Supposed To Be A Fourth Matrix Movie
The alluring lure of potentially massive sequel revenue has often caused Hollywood to squeeze every last drop of ticket sales from an otherwise sold-out storyline. In the case of The matrixaudiences’ response to the first film’s jaw-dropping plot and innovative “bullet time” special effects was such a hit that Warner Bros. Pictures decided to confirm two suites just months after the release of the first film in 1999.
And when it comes to science fiction, the appeal is particularly strong. The 10 most successful live-action sequels of all time all belong to this genre, with Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens open the way at $2 billion. If a sci-fi release is successful with moviegoers, a sequel is almost always on the table.
Although the directors, the Wachowski sisters, the studio, and the first film’s lead producer, Joel Silver, were all eagerly engaged in the launch of the first two sequels, it turns out it was never meant to go any further. far than the trilogy. “That will never happen,” said silver asked about the possibility of additional sequels after the release of Revolutions in 2003.
Indeed, before the release of Reloadedthe studio released a teaser for The facilitatora series of animated shorts designed to reenact the story of The matrix universe and answer any lingering questions the trilogy didn’t answer. This animated collection was released straight to DVD in 2003 for home video. Since then, the only other non-live action Matrix material came in the form of the recent Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experiencemade to promote the Resurrections after.
Almost twenty years later, the wisdom of Silver’s original engagement has been confirmed by the fourth film in the series, which largely repeats what happened in the first. Matrix.
The cultural impact of The matrix
Kaori Sakamoto, the 2022 Japanese Olympic bronze medalist in figure skating, was just three years old when Rob Dougan’s orchestral track “Chateau,” the music behind her the most famous routine, debuted in Recharged. But despite its temporal disconnect, transcendence Matrix The fight scene continues to inspire him and many others exposed to the Wachowski universe.
And when tech luminaries like Elon Musk inject the now-viral notion we may be living in a simulation into the social media space, the shadow of The matrix features more prominently in the conversation than the widely quoted philosophical discourse writing on the subject by Nick Bostrom. Before Bostrom, characters like the roboticist Hans Moravec and philosopher René Descartes explored the notion, but the Wachowskis’ film became the most consumed version of the concept.
At this point, it’s hard to deny that The matrix has influenced film, fashion and the way we think about reality itself over several generations. Nevertheless, the reductive ideas that resonate in Resurrectionsand the lukewarm audience reaction to it, demonstrate that sometimes sequels can diminish the luster of an original film in ways that tarnish it forever.
The cost of the sequels of the legacy of the original work
movies like Citizen Kane, A Clockwork Orange, and Creation continue to fascinate moviegoers today. Part of the continued delight with these stories is the fact that they, well, ended. A full thought has been rendered, leaving the viewer to ponder the meaning of it all, decades into the future.
Still, sequels can offer movie gold. The programmable sex-dessert of the Merovingians stageaccentuated by a flowering of French coarseness in Reloaded was fun. There “Brutal brawl“, during which Neo battles dozens of Agent Smiths was a mind-blowing screen innovation. And the highway car chase in which Morpheus uses a samurai sword to destroy a moving car was a highlight in the movie. history of Hollywood action sequences.
Lots of diehards Matrix fans made peace with the decidedly less engaging Revolutions because Reloaded had some real moments of cinematic brilliance. But the arrival of Resurrections several years later recast the Matrix sequels, as a whole, as a cynical madness, more focused on profit than narrative legacy.
The business case for the sequels has, for the most part, paid off. Yet what continues to resonate with audiences is mostly found in the first film. Unfortunately, the vibrant pulse of the original seems to fade into the background noise generated by each successive sequel in the series.
Less is more is the antithesis of sequels and the linchpin of a classic
“Wherever the poetry of myth is interpreted as biography, history, or science, it is killed,” wrote Joseph Campbell in his 1949 book. The hero with a thousand faces. Campbell’s analysis is a powerful breadcrumb as to why The matrix would likely be much more revered as a seminal work had it ended with the first movie.
At the end of The matrix, Neo alerts the AI system to his new powers, saying “Where do we go from here is up to you…” just before demonstrating a new trick: flying through the dense virtual reality cityscape on its own.
This example of limitless possibility and wonder could be the last great moment in franchise history. Like many important cinematic moments that take place just off camera, the viewer’s imagination is the most powerful tool a filmmaker has.
With this ending, the Wachowskis launched a decades-long obsession with the world of The matrix as audiences tried to fill in the gaps of what might happen next in such a world presented by the film.
There’s a fine line between an idea that’s so good it to have to be worked out, and an idea that is so perfectly executed, say anything else weakens its overall gravitational pull. The manufacturers of The matrix sequels crossed that line. And now it’s clear that they should have taken the blue pill and left the first movie to fend for itself, forever.