Is The Matrix 4 a standalone chapter of the franchise, or the beginning of a whole new Matrix Trilogy? That is just one of the questions fans have been asking, ever since The Matrix Resurrections trailer was released. The Matrix 4's storyline seems to bring Keanu Reeves' Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss's Trinity right back to square one, as unwitting pawns of the digital realm known as The Matrix. That seems like it could definitely be fertile ground to build out a whole new saga for the franchise - but is Warner Bros. already hedging its bets that way?
WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff did a lengthy interview with Deadline about the company's strategies in a post-pandemic marketplace. After all, WarnerMedia made the bold move of being releasing its entire 2021 blockbuster slate of films on HBO Max streaming at the same time as in theaters - an experiment that will end with The Matrix Resurrections in late December. However, while franchises like The Sopranos are benefitting from having theatrical releases synergized with streaming libraries, The Matrix franchise is (if nothing else) the kind of visual spectacle meant for theaters.
That all said, there is naturally a lot of trepidation that Matrix Resurrections releasing on HBO Max could tank its box office chances - and therefore also tank chances of a sequel. So how concerned should Matrix fans be at this point? According to Ann Sarnoff's comments, not that concerned at all: "Anytime Lana (Wachowski) wants to make a movie, we're all in."
From that statement, it would seem that Matrix creator Lana Wachowski's relationship with WarnerMedia is going strong - strong enough for the studio to take into account the unusual circumstances of this dual theatrical/streaming release. In fact, it seems that a lot of the intention in Sarnoff's interview was to properly frame (spin?) the measurements of this strange year in Warner's business. Whether The Matrix Resurrections scores at the box office, provides another massive holiday season boost to HBO Max, or both, the studio could very well greenlight a sequel simply as a show of strength.
Twenty years after the events of The Matrix Revolutions, Neo lives a seemingly ordinary life as Thomas A. Anderson in San Francisco where his therapist prescribes him blue pills. Neither he nor Trinity recognize each other. However, Morpheus offers him the red pill and reopens his mind to the world of the Matrix.
The Matrix Resurrections will be in theaters and on HBO Max on December 22nd.