Warner Bros. Sued Over The Matrix Resurrections Streaming Release

By Jamie Lovett
Village Roadshow has filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. over The Matrix Resurrections‘ streaming release on HBO Max, according to The Wall Street Journal. The studio studios have a long working relationship and co-produced The Matrix Resurrections. However, Village Roadshow Entertainment Group now claims in a new lawsuit that releasing The Matrix Resurrections simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max was a breach of contract on Warner Bros. Pictures‘ part. The suit claims Warner Bros.’s actions were part of an effort by the studio “to eviscerate the significant value of Village Roadshow’s intellectual property in order to prop up the new HBO Max streaming service” (via The Wrap).
In other words, Village Roadshow feels that Warner Bros. devalued The Matrix Resurrections and the franchise’s brand in order to gain HBO Max some clout in the streaming space. The suit claims that Warner Bros. is trying to shut Village Roadshow out of future legal rights to co-finance any sequels, prequels, spinoffs, or other media that may come from intellectual properties that the studios co-own.
“As detailed in the complaint, Village Roadshow’s copyright ownership gave it the most sought-after rights in Hollywood: the perpetual right to co-create, co-invest and co-own the derivative rights to extremely successful tent pole films and franchises,” Mark Holscher, a Kirkland & Ellis litigation partner representing Village Roadshow, said in a statement. “Warner Brothers has a fiduciary duty to account to Village Roadshow for all earnings from the exploitation of the films’ copyrights, not just those it can’t hide through sweetheart deals to benefit HBO Max.”
The suit claims Warner Bros. did not follow industry standards when it let HBO Max stream The Matrix Resurrections during its first month in theaters. Representatives for Warner Bros. have not commented on the suit, which also claims that Warner Bros. deliberately moved the film’s release date from April to December to better support HBO knowing that it would also severely diminish the movie’s box office returns. The suit quotes WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar as saying, “We’d make the same decision again,” despite the decision having “ensured that The Matrix Resurrections would be a bust at the box office . . . [and] inflicted serious harm to the entire Matrix franchise.”
The Matrix Resurrections was the last major film released day-and-date in theaters and simultaneously on HBO Max as part of WarnerMedia’s plan to roll out films during the pandemic in 2021. That plan resulted in a previous conflict with partner studio Legendary over Godzilla vs. Kong and Dune.
The Matrix Resurrections is no longer streaming on HBO Max but can be rented via video-on-demand outlets. It arrives on Blu-ray on March 8th.
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