9 Feb – In another case of hybrid release ruining relationships, it was revealed that Village Roadshow Entertainment Group has sued long-time partner Warner Bros. for releasing "The Matrix Resurrections" simultaneously in theatres and on HBO Max.
In a statement released about the case, Village Roadshow Entertainment Group claimed that Warner Bros.' decision to release the movie in such a way was a breach of contract, and that the actions were part of an effort by the studio to devalue the movie and the franchise's brand to prop up the streaming service.
Said the company's legal rep, "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. 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."
It also claimed that Warner Bros. deliberately moved the film's release date from April to December to better support HBO despite the fact that it would diminish the movie's box office returns.
At the same time, the studio also alleged that Warner Bros. tried to deprive them of their contractual rights to films including "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", despite the fact that the latter co-owned it. Warner Bros., which is currently producing "Wonka", earlier stressed that the latter is not a prequel of the former.
It is noted that just like in the case of Scarlett Johansson vs Disney, Warner Bros. cited the pandemic as the reason for its decision for the simultaneous release of "Black Widow". However, Village Roadshow countered by saying that other movies, including "Spider-Man: No Way Home" were able to be released in late 2021 without going to streaming service and managed to break box office records.
"The Matrix Resurrections", which sees the return of Keanu Reeves as Neo, raked in only USD 37 million in the US, compared to "Spider-Man: No Way Home", which made USD 750 million nearly the same time.