In the days before the U.S. premiere of The Matrix Resurrections in San Francisco on Dec. 18, rumors began swirling that the movie was part of a new trilogy. There were whispers that back-to-back shoots could happen and that a spinoff series based on a character named Bugs, a breakout in the movie played by Jessica Henwick, was in the works for HBO Max.
Henwick said she’d be up for more Matrix should the opportunity present itself. “I loved playing Bugs,” she told The Hollywood Reporter at the premiere. “I would love to see where she goes. I think she’s validated in this film because [my character] believes that Neo is alive and that comes true. So yeah, I would definitely love to revisit her.”
However, HBO Max insiders insist no series is in development. And movie sequels to the Warner Bros. reboot may prove glitchy as well. Sources tell THR that star Keanu Reeves does not have sequel options, and it’s unclear if director Lana Wachowski wants to make more.
It’s no surprise that Warner Bros. and sister company HBO Max may be downplaying such speculation: Matrix Resurrections, which reportedly cost $190 million or more to make, has gone down the rabbit hole at the box office, earning $106 million globally since its Dec. 22 bow. The film tumbled 64 percent in its second frame, by far the biggest drop in the top 10. The divisive film earned a “B-” audience survey ranking from Cinemascore and has a 64 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Another reason for the fall is the film’s availability on HBO Max. The streamer won’t reveal viewership numbers, but sources suggest that Matrix ranks among the top five most viewed HBO Max movies (a group that certainly includes Wonder Woman 1984, Godzilla vs. Kong and The Suicide Squad). Matrix Resurrections needed older moviegoers, considering that it opened more than 20 years after The Matrix debuted. But no one was counting on such fierce competition from Spider-Man: No Way Home or the dominance of the new omicron COVID-19 variant, which has further spooked older consumers.
“The fact that Resurrections is heavily meta doesn’t help attract new audiences either. Truth is, the multiplex masses weren’t on board,” says box office analyst Jeff Bock.
Getting anyone to forecast the future of the Matrix series is indeed a difficult call. By now, it’s far from a spoiler to reveal that Wachowski and her Matrix Resurrections writing partners David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon included more than a wink about how the film came to be. In the early moments, Reeves’ Thomas Anderson is found as a celebrated video game designer and the creator of a wildly popular Matrix series. He is quickly summoned by his boss, Smith, played by Jonathan Groff, to focus on a sequel. “Things have changed, the market’s tough. I’m sure you can understand why our beloved parent company Warner Bros. has decided to make a sequel to the trilogy,” Smith says in the art-imitating-life moment. “They informed me they’re going to do it with or without us.”
The dialogue is said to be inspired by real conversations Lana and sister Lilly had with Warners in the years since the franchise’s previous installment, 2003’s The Matrix Revolutions, which grossed $427 million globally.
Asked by THR at the San Francisco premiere whether she would make more Matrix films, Lana smiled and held a moment of silence before bowing out. “I’ll shuffle down now,” she said, playfully ending the interview and moving on to the next green carpet chat.
Pamela McClintock contributed to this report.
This story first appeared in the Jan. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.