Why The Matrix Resurrections Bombed At The Box Office

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Why The Matrix Resurrections Bombed At The Box Office

Warning: SPOILERS for The Matrix Resurrections

The Matrix Resurrections‘ poor box office performance in the aftermath of its release has some quarters questioning why the latest Matrix entry bombed so spectacularly. Released 22 years after the groundbreaking first Matrix film, director Lana Wachowski returns to her dystopian simulated reality alongside the franchise’s original stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss to continue Neo and Trinity’s respective storylines. Yet despite attempting to tap into ‘s generous reserves of nostalgia, has failed to recapture the box office magic of the original trilogy with sub-par ticket sales numbers in the weeks following its release.

The Matrix Resurrections takes place some 60 years after the climactic events of The Matrix Revolutions, centering on the successful video game developer Thomas Anderson. Thomas’ games are based on his faint memories as Neo, with Thomas regularly unable to distinguish dreams from reality as his past as “The One” continues to overwhelm his consciousness. Inevitably, Thomas is extracted from the simulation to become Neo once again and save Trinity from The Analyst’s (Neil Patrick Harris) latest iteration of the Matrix.

Yet despite acting as a clarion call to the sentimentality of older has become an unmitigated box office failure. From being unable to hit its ambitious gross projections to receiving a divisive critical reception, The Matrix Resurrections has undoubtedly struggled to live up to the hype its coy marketing efforts initially whipped up. Here’s why The Matrix Resurrections bombed at the box office, including a look at its polarizing reviews and HBO Max streaming performance.

As of January 2, 2022, The Matrix Resurrections has grossed $30.9million in the United States and Canada and $75.1million in other territories for a worldwide total of $106 million. In the United States, The Matrix Resurrections was projected to gross in excess of $40 million from 3,552 theaters over its first five days of release, with several outlets boldly predicting the  movie would make upwards of $70 million in its first six days. However, despite these projections, The Matrix Resurrections under-performed heavily, grossing just $12 million over its opening weekend. These numbers are more galling in the context of The Matrix Resurrections‘ mammoth production budget, with Lana Wachowski’s film costing $190 million to make.

As with many other prominent 2021 film releases, The Matrix Resurrections is an undoubted victim of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has slashed cinema viewership in almost all territories globally. The Matrix Resurrections opened three days before Christmas in just 2,151 theaters across the U.S. and Canada, highlighting the continued lack of appetite for in-person viewing of new releases. The film’s lack of ticket sales was further compounded by its proximity to the cinematic behemoth , which entered the top 10 grossing movies of all time as of January 2, 2022, and was released just five days before The Matrix Resurrections. This essentially ensured Resurrections was competing with a franchise and fanbase in the MCU that far dwarfs its own, resulting in its anemic box office performance as audiences chose to brave spiking Coronavirus numbers for Spider-Man rather than Neo across a congested cinematic festive period.

However, The Matrix Resurrections‘ problems run far deeper than its release schedule, with the film’s marketing in the lead-up to its release being nothing short of clandestine. In a valiant attempt to keep its highly-speculated plot under wraps, The Matrix Resurrections deployed a secretive series of trailers and teasers that did little to build interest for the movie outside of its core audience demographic. also received polarizing reviews, with critics decidedly split on whether Resurrections succeeded as a worthy Matrix sequel or even as a standalone movie. The lukewarm commentary for The Matrix Resurrections did little to convince non-Matrix fans to purchase tickets, further feeding into a closed loop of only pre-existing franchise fans seeing the film – with its low box office numbers proving Resurrections‘ lack of agency beyond its own genre viewership.

However, one area in which The Matrix Resurrections did excel upon immediate release was its HBO Max viewing numbers, with the streaming platform reporting an impressive 2.8 million smart TV U.S. households viewing the sequel across the first five days of its release. This data from HBO puts Resurrections on par with some of the platform’s best early performers, such as , highlighting an interest in the film removed from its failures at the box office. The Matrix Resurrections is also the last movie from Warner Bros. Pictures to have a simultaneous 30-day release on the HBO Max streaming service, which was initially used to mitigate low ticket sales in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A common assertion is that a simultaneous release split between HBO Max and theatres has hurt The Matrix Resurrections‘ box office performance, but its co-release is unlikely a major factor in its failure to generate revenue. Other similarly hyped features such as Denis Villeneuve’s Dune also ran a split theatrical and HBO release, yet Dune surpassed $300 million worldwide as of November 2, 2021, just 11 days after its initial release. ‘s box office performance, and other features like it, cement the idea that The Matrix Resurrections failed based on its narrative merits and stiff MCU competition as opposed to being available for streaming to at-home audiences.

In the weeks following The Matrix Resurrections release, there has been a palpable sense of shock at just how poorly the film has performed at the domestic box office, with the film finishing some $50 million away from its highest opening five-day estimates. Yet Warner Bros., despite protestations, may well have overestimated how much appetite there was for a contemporary Matrix sequel, even one steeped in as much nostalgia as Resurrections. The original Matrix trilogy’s box office stats bear out this notion, albeit with the caveat that each film was still massively profitable for Warner Bros. Studios at the time.

The Matrix is an undoubtedly groundbreaking piece of filmmaking whose changing of the sci-fi genre’s boundaries ensures its place in the pantheon of great movies. The first Matrix racked up an impressive $466.6 million globally, with audiences flocking to see Neo’s journey to becoming “The One.” The Matrix Reloaded took home an even larger profit grossing $741.8 million worldwide, yet reviews for the film were lukewarm, particularly in contrast to the genius and originality of its predecessor. Critics lambasted The Matrix Revolutions upon release, and even though it still pulled in $427.3 million globally, it represented a harsh profit drop from the previous Matrix entry as interest the Wachowski’s dystopian world waned.

These numbers and declining critical reviews for the franchise essentially put The Matrix Resurrections in an untenable position commercially, where anything less than being an absolute masterpiece would work against the fourth Matrix installment. Particularly in the context of its COVID-19 release, was essentially banking on blowing audiences away with its revisions to the Matrix story and garnering such strong reviews that moviegoers were forced to see Neo’s second rebirth in theatres. This, of course, did not come to pass, cementing the idea that the appetite to return to the world of The Matrix was not as big as Resurrections‘ mysterious marketing campaigns would suggest. Put simply; The Matrix Resurrections was always destined to be a box office bomb, with no release schedule or streaming numbers able to hide the fact that the magic seems long gone from the Matrix franchise.

Next: Matrix Resurrections Ending Explained: Analyst’s Plan & Neo/Trinity Future

This content was originally published here.