After The Matrix Resurrections bombed at the box office, one wonders if a different version of Matrix 4 could have succeeded. In some ways, The Matrix Resurrections was always going to have at least one uphill battle to achieve box office glory. While the 1999 original Matrix the film is still considered by many to be an all-time classic of the sci-fi and action genres, 2003 sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The matrix revolutions are two of the go-to examples when it comes to divisive franchise installments.
The Matrix Reloaded tends to be considered much better than Revolutions, but either way, neither ever approached the level of esteem boasted by their progenitor. As interesting as some of their other work is, it can just as easily be said that The matrix was the pinnacle of Lana and Lily Wachowski’s directorial careers, despite being one of their earliest efforts. While some of Wachowski’s other films may have developed cult followings, it’s highly likely that they would have drifted away from the limelight by now had they not had The matrix on their collective CV.
Prior’s mixed reputation Matrix sequels and the Wachowskis’ filmography aside, is it possible that a different take on The Matrix 4 could have done better? Maybe, and it’s even possible that in an alternate universe, that’s exactly what happened. Still, there were plenty of reasons why industry tipsters should have seen The Matrix Resurrections‘ Financial failure ahead.
Why Matrix Resurrections Bombed At The Box Office
As one can imagine, a combination of factors played into the box office flop of The Matrix Resurrections. The most obvious is Warner Bros.’ 2021 release strategy of putting its movies in theaters on the HBO Max streaming service day and date with theaters. It probably cut at the box office, but that’s not the whole story, as the other day and date streaming releases did better. There’s also the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the highly contagious omicron variant, which has once again closed cinemas in some areas, and moviegoers are hesitant to go there in others.
Other than that, the lukewarm reviews The Matrix Resurrections received also likely led some potential viewers to stay home. While some franchises can overcome poor reviews, critics’ ratings do indeed help shape the narrative around a movie that’s brewing on opening weekend. Opinion aside though, The Matrix Resurrections made the wrong choice in hindsight to open less than a week later Spider-Man: No Coming Home, the biggest hit of 2021, and a movie that topped the box office for a solid month. Add all of these factors up and you have a recipe for Neo and Trinity’s latest adventure to be dosed with box office poison.
Would a “better” Matrix 4 have had greater box office success?
Obviously, it is impossible to be sure anyway if another crack at The Matrix 4 would have been more successful than The Matrix Resurrections. That said, if the reviews for another Matrix 4 had been as overwhelmingly positive as, say, Scream 2022, another highly meta “rebootquel” project, there’s certainly a good chance it would have helped its box office fortunes. Thanks to the mixed reputation of The Matrix Reloaded and The matrix revolutions, would-be moviegoers probably give more weight to reviews before deciding to watch Resurrections, due to possibly having already been burned by a bad Matrix movie sequel or two.
Another change that might have helped another Matrix 4 to be more successful is, to be blunt, if Lana Wachowski, Keanu Reeves, and company had made a sequel that was less about leaning on the fourth wall and more about giving longtime fans what they wanted. When a Matrix 4 was originally announced, many were hoping to see Neo and Trinity back in black leather and beating up agents, but what they got was a movie in which Neo and Trinity don’t really act like Neo and Trinity until in the last third. Once word of mouth spread about it, those less inclined towards metafiction may have been put off by Resurrections, when they would have been willing to shell out the money to see a more traditional version Matrix followed.
How The Other Matrix Sequels Have Performed At The Box Office
How the previous two Matrix box office sequels is the story of two releases, not too far apart in 2003. The original Matrix The film was a massive hit, earning $465 million worldwide on a budget of $65 million, or $778 million today after adjusting for inflation. Riding the wave of this success, The Matrix Reloaded was a success, despite having a much larger budget of $150 million, earning $738 million worldwide. That’s over $1.1 billion in today’s money.
However, when looking at the box office for The matrix revolutions, the effect of mixed reception on Reloaded becomes apparent. Despite its release a few months later, Revolutions earned just $427 million worldwide, enough to make a decent profit after factoring in marketing costs, but not a financial smash. However, after adjusting for inflation, Revolutions‘ total becomes $647 million, still absolutely overwhelming The Matrix Resurrections. No matter how we slice it, Matrix 4 was a box office failure for Warner Bros.
Why Matrix Resurrections Were Always Likely To Fail
The debate can and will continue on the question of whether a Matrix 4 it was not The Matrix Resurrections could have succeeded where it failed at the box office. Ultimately however, a Matrix 4 becoming a hit was always a bit long. After 12 years, most had accepted the Matrix being a trilogy, and had accepted the final fates of Neo and Trinity. Undoing those heroic sacrifices was always going to be a risk, and unfortunately any explanation offered by Wachowski and his team would have let down part of the franchise’s fanbase.
Associate this problem with the fact that the Matrix the trilogy is generally considered to have more disappointing entries than good ones, and Warner Bros. was still taking a financial gamble by spending nearly $200 million on a new Matrix exit. The pandemic has likely compounded their potential loss, but either way, the Matrix Resurrections could have easily failed even without a disease taking hold of the world. For the most part, the Matrix the franchise was dead and gone, a relic of a bygone era. Maybe he should have stayed there.
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