The co-producer of The Matrix Resurrections has slapped Warner Bros with a lawsuit over its HBO Max release strategy.
Village Roadshow, the company that co-produced the recent Matrix sequel, sued Warner Bros. in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, alleging releasing the film on HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously hurt its performance at the box office and was a breach of contract, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Warner Bros. made the shock announcement in late 2020 that it would debut all of its 2021 films in theaters and on HBO Max at the same time amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Matrix Resurrections was once scheduled to be released in April 2022, meaning it wouldn't be affected by the HBO Max release plan and would be exclusive to theaters. But Warner Bros. later moved its release to December 2021.
"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 lawsuit alleges.
The Matrix Resurrections disappointed at the box office, grossing only $37 million domestically, though another factor in that was likely competition with Spider-Man: No Way Home, a massive box office phenomenon released less than a week earlier. A number of Warner Bros. films like Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong still performed fairly well in 2021 despite being on HBO Max.
Village Roadshow's lawsuit was reminiscent of one filed by Scarlett Johansson against Disney last year, alleging she lost millions of dollars because the studio released Black Widow on Disney+ and in theaters at the same time. After a public war of words between the two parties, Disney and Johansson settled for an undisclosed amount.