Another major studio is facing a lawsuit over the day-and-date releases of a highly anticipated title. Village Roadshow Films, who co-produced The Matrix Resurrections with Warner Bros., is suing WarnerMedia for releasing the film on HBO Max the same day it debuted in theaters.
The lawsuit, filed today in the Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that WarnerMedia’s release of The Matrix Resurrections from 2022 to 2021 so that the film could debut as part of an internally coded initiative known as “Project Popcorn.” This release model would trade box office revenue for streaming subscriptions, depriving partners of revenue associated with the film’s performance.
Throughout 2021, WarnerMedia chose to release its entire line of films simultaneously on HBO Max on the same day they premiered in theaters as part of its pandemic strategy. (Warner Bros. has since returned to exclusive theater pledges in 2022.) The suit features Project Popcorn as WarnerMedia’s “clandestine plan to hit the box office and correlated ancillary revenues generated from tent pole films that Villiage Roadshow and others might receive in exchange for boosting subscription revenues.” for the new HBO Max service.”
In a statement shared with The edge, Warner Bros. called the lawsuit “a frivolous attempt by Village Roadshow to evade their contractual obligation to participate in the arbitration we began against them last week. We have no doubt that this matter will be resolved in our favor.”
As was the case in Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney over the simultaneous release of Black Widow during the pandemic, Village Roadshow claims that the release of The Matrix Resurrections under this model, it yielded “zero advantage” to itself, its talent, or its partners. A movie that “should have been an incredibly valuable sequel to” the matrix trilogy” helped boost HBO Max’s value and boost its subscribers, the suit claims, but hurt the film’s theatrical revenue and “deepened serious damage to the entire Matrix franchise.”
“The Hit To” The Matrix ResurrectionsThe box office revenue was the result not only of the cannibalization of streaming, but of the rampant piracy it knew was coming by distributing this big picture on a streaming platform on the same day as its theatrical release,” the suit says. . “The cumulative result was devastating.”
Village Roadshow has partnered with Warner Bros. for decades. and has co-funded 91 titles, including: joker, the Ocean’s franchise, and the matrix movies. The company claims that Warner Bros. now pushing them away, trying to knock them out when it comes to working for and profiting from franchise businesses.
These rights disagreements extend to projects such as: wonka and a series based on Edge of tomorrow, which is a Village Roadshow movie. In case of Edge of tomorrow, Warner Bros. “urged that Village Roadshow voluntarily waive its co-funding and co-ownership rights.”
When Village Roadshow declined, WB said the quiet part out loud: It will not allow Village Roadshow to profit from its derivative rights in the future, despite the more than $4.5 billion it paid WB to make 91 films. and distribute,” the lawsuit said. states. “In other words, if Village Roadshow doesn’t give up its rights, WB will make sure they’re worth nothing.”
In a statement, Mark Holscher, a Kirkland & Ellis litigation partner who represents Village Roadshow, said Warner Bros. “has a fiduciary duty to account to Village Roadshow for all income from the exploitation of the copyrights of the films, not just for the revenue it can”. don’t hide through sweetheart deals to benefit HBO Max.”
Village Roadshow claims, among other things, that Warner Bros. was aware of potential profit and piracy issues and went ahead with a hybrid release of The Matrix Resurrections either way, hurting not only the franchise’s revenue, but also the legacy.
The suit states that there is no doubt that “the appalling sales figures of theatrical box offices of” The Matrix Resurrections weaken the value of this tent pole franchise, as a film’s lack of profitability generally prevents studios from investing in additional sequels and derivative films in the short term.”