Warner Bros. sued over ‘Matrix Resurrections’ release on HBO Max – The Hollywood Reporter
On Monday, Village Roadshow Entertainment Group sued Warner Bros. for breach of contract regarding the studio’s decision to release Matrix Resurrections simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters.
The lawsuit intensifies growing hostility between movie industry players who could earn millions from big theatrical releases and big media companies that have turned to growing their streaming services.
“WB’s sole purpose in moving the release date of The Matrix Resurrections before was to create a desperately needed wave of year-end premium HBO Max subscriptions out of what he knew was a blockbuster film, knowing full well that it would decimate the film’s box office revenue and would deprive Village Roadshow of any economic benefit WB and its affiliates would enjoy, especially in relation to an exclusive theatrical release in 2022,” the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court reads.
Warner Bros. said in a statement: “This is a frivolous attempt by Village Roadshow to avoid their contractual commitment to participate in the arbitration we initiated against them last week. We have no doubt that this matter will be resolved in our favor.
Village Roadshow alleged that the non-industrial practice caused Matrix Resurrections, which she said was supposed to be released in 2022 but was moved by Warner Bros, only to disappoint at the box office. The hit sequel only grossed $37 million domestically, compared to nearly $750 million a year earlier. Spider-Man: No Coming Homewhich is also the sequel to a successful franchise and was released around the same time.
Actors, producers and other financial partners whose remuneration is impacted by the renunciation of exclusive theatrical releases have pushed back the prioritization of streaming.
In July, Scarlett Johansson sued Disney claiming her contract was terminated when Black Widow was made available on Disney+ the same day it hit theaters. She claimed that Disney was trying to entice viewers to watch the film on its streaming service rather than in theaters to increase its value and reduce its compensation, which was tied to the Black Widowbox office performance.
Disney maintained that it renegotiated Johansson’s contract so that she could be cured. The case was settled in September. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
In the lawsuit filed Monday, Village Roadshow alleged that Warner Bros. executives’ “Project Popcorn” effort. As part of the plan, Warner Bros. brought forward the release of Matrix Resurrections from 2022 to the end of 2021.
“WB has agreed to allow its sister company to air the film on the Village Roadshow tentpoles, the same day of its theatrical release, without additional revenue, so that its sister company can increase its subscribers and revenue by subscription with the added benefit of increasing revenue for its parent company. stock,” writes Mark Holscher, a Kirkland & Ellis partner representing Village Roadshow.
Warner Bros. renegotiated contracts tied to box office performance when he announced he would put his entire slate of 2021 movies on HBO Max and in theaters.
But no such agreement has been reached with Village Roadshow on Matrix Resurrections, the lawsuit said, and the rushed release caused its widespread piracy, further hurting its box office returns. The complaint argued that the film’s poor financial performance is diluting the value of the franchise since it now appears that no further installments will be made.
Village Roadshow also raises other disputes it has with Warner Bros. in the lawsuit. on other ongoing projects. He argued that the studio had refused to recognize his right to associate with Wonka pretending it’s not a prequel to Charlie and the chocolate factoryof which both parties are co-owners.
Warner Bros. also attempts to remove Village Roadshow from a TV series based on edge of tomorrowaccording to the trial.
“Instead of treating Village Roadshow as a co-owner of the film and a longtime partner, WB offered a financing deal that would have required Village Roadshow to forfeit its contractual rights and be relegated to a second-class entrant,” said the complaint reads.
Warner Bros. would have refused to pursue any project concerning edge of tomorrow which involves Village Roadshow as a financial partner.
Village Roadshow is withholding substantial payments for its share of production expenses on Matrix Resurrections due to the alleged breach of contract, according to the lawsuit. It seeks to account for all Warner Bros. revenue. Matrix Resurrectionsincluding the value gained from using the film to direct subscribers to HBO Max, and an order requiring the studio to consult with it for future distribution plans.
WarnerMedia, parent company of Warner Bros., in 2021 released all of its films on HBO Max the same day they were released in theaters in a bid to expand its subscriber base as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the distancing of Hollywood movie theaters. The streaming service hosted the films for a month before returning to the typical distribution procedure.
WarnerMedia’s decision sparked a backlash from top Warner Bros. talent and partners, including Dunes filmmaker Denis Villeneuve and Principle director Christopher Nolan, who denounced the plan in 2020 and called HBO Max “the worst streaming service”.
WarnerMedia chief Jason Kilar admitted he rushed the day-and-date plan, even though he stuck to the strategy, saying last September at the Code Conference: “I will be the first to say, and the responsibility rests on my shoulders, that in hindsight we should have taken the better part of a month to have over 170 conversations – which is the number of participants that are on our list of movies 2021. »