The New ‘Matrix’ Trilogy Could Launch in 2017

It could soon be time for a new hacker hero to make the choice between the red and blue pills, according to a recent report from Latino Review. The report claims that Lana and Andy Wachowski plan to revisit The Matrix franchise, and possibly launch a new prequel trilogy by 2017.

The original Matrix trilogy hit theaters between 1999 and 2003, spawning a dazzling expanded universe of comic books, video games, and animated short films. However, the series reached a definitive, polarizing conclusion with the final film, The Matrix Revolutions, and the blockbuster franchise has been abandoned for over a decade.

(Source: Varesenews.it)

Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) /Warner Bros. hasn't confirmed plans for the film, but a new Matrix film would be an excellent move for both the studio and the Wachowskis, whose subsequent films failed to match the critical and commercial appeal of the Matrix trilogy. It could also give Time Warner a blockbuster sci-fi franchise to compete against Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) new Star Wars trilogy, which will reportedly start with Episode VII in 2015.

Why hasn't anyone taken the red pill again?
To better understand the market for a new Matrix film, let's take a look at the commercial and critical performance of the original trilogy.

 

Production Cost

Global box office

Rotten Tomatoes

The Matrix (1999)

$63 million

$464 million

87%

The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

$150 million

$742 million

73%

The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

$150 million

$427 million

36%

Total/Avg. Rating

$363 million

$1.63 billion

65% (avg.)

Source: Box Office Mojo, Rotten Tomatoes.

Although the entire trilogy grossed $1.63 billion on a combined production budget of $363 million, we can see two problems that Warner Bros. likely noticed after the release of The Matrix Revolutions -- that the third chapter failed to measure up to the first two films with audiences or critics.

In my opinion, the first film was a clearly executed, self-contained story, but the two sequels became increasingly convoluted and pretentious. The third film, in particular, took a bizarre twist and turned the sleek sci-fi tale into a chaotic, explosion-filled religious allegory that alienated and confused many viewers.

Neo sacrificing himself at the end of The Matrix Revolutions. (Source: Empireonline.com)

The Matrix Revolutions didn't leave audiences with the sense of closure and satisfaction that the original film provided. Instead, it left them feeling cheated, with all the sound and the fury generated by The Matrix Reloaded ultimately signifying nothing.

The Matrix should be revisited ... without the Wachowskis
Many Star Wars fans know that the stronger films in the franchise, such as The Empire Strikes Back (1980), were made without George Lucas' screenwriting and direction. Instead, Lucas wrote the plot, and a creative team distilled his vision for the big screen.

Warner Bros. should apply that same idea to The Matrix. The Wachowskis did a great job with The Matrix, but their subsequent writing and directing projects prove that they need help in refining their creative vision.

The Wachowskis wrote and directed two more films after The Matrix Revolutions -- Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas (co-directed with Tom Tykwer) -- and neither was a critical or commercial hit.

 

Production cost

Global box office

Rotten Tomatoes

Speed Racer (2008)

$120 million

$94 million

39%

Cloud Atlas (2012)

$102 million

$130 million

66%

Source: Box Office Mojo, Rotten Tomatoes.

Speed Racer, which was based on the 1960s Japanese manga and anime of the same name, was critically panned due to its overuse of CGI special effects and confusing action sequences. Cloud Atlas received a warmer critical reception, but like Speed Racer, it also failed to resonate with a wider mainstream audience.

Speed Racer -- lots of flash but very little substance. (Source: Fanpop.com)

Yet V for Vendetta (2006), which the Wachowskis wrote but didn't direct, fared better than both films, grossing $133 million on a production budget of $54 million. The film, based on Alan Moore's acclaimed graphic novel, has a 73% rating among critics at Rotten Tomatoes. It was directed by James McTeigue, who served as the Wachowskis' assistant director on The Matrix films.

Therefore, it would make more sense for the Wachowskis to write the story or screenplay, then let a new creative team streamline it into a more coherent vision. To find that vision, they should take a look at The Animatrix (2003), a direct-to-video collection of nine animated short films based on the Matrix universe.

Tapping into The Animatrix
Four of the films in The Animatrix were written by the Wachowskis, and featured the animation work of some of the top names in Japanese anime, such as Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Ninja Scroll), Mahiro Maeda (Blue Submarine No. 6), and Shinichirō Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop). The anthology offered a much clearer view of The Matrix universe than the one that was presented in the three main films.

Robots being executed in The Animatrix. (Source: Matrixfans.net)

Audiences finally understood why the robots rebelled, how the Earth was plunged into eternal darkness, and the origins of some of the new characters who appear in Zion in the third film. It was essentially The Matrix without the pretentiousness of the second and third live action films, and it has an 88% rating at Rotten Tomatoes -- higher than any of the films of the trilogy.

If the Wachowskis and Warner Bros. are intent on moving forward with a new Matrix film, The Animatrix would be an ideal place to start mining for ideas.

My final take
In conclusion, I would love to see The Matrix return to theaters. However, I think that the Wachowskis should enlist outside help to remake and refine their machine world dystopia for a new generation of movie audiences. That way, the franchise won't burn out as it did in 2003, crushed under the burdens of its own techno mythology.

What do you think, dear readers? Are you looking forward to a new Matrix film or trilogy? Let me know in the comments section below!

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Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (9)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 9:36 AM, ickabodx wrote:

    I'd pay to see some of the Animatrix done as live action. Especially "The Second Renaissance"

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 9:48 AM, FUSSNIK wrote:

    I think they should merge the Terminator with the Matrix. Then we know the eventual outcome of the war against the machines and we'll also know how it all started.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 10:17 AM, myka1319 wrote:

    Of course Revolutions was a disappointment , but rebooting The Matrix is utterly pointless. Hollywood clearly needs fresh ideas . All reboots don't work or should be made.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 10:31 AM, saphirantcross wrote:

    If it's a prequel, learn from Caprica: you may not be successful enough to finish your own story. Make the fourth movie stand on it's own. It's not what I want to happen as a fan (Star Wars Ep 1-3's underwhelming response will confirm: fans don't like Prequels if they don't add SIGNIFICANTLY to the franchise. The Machete Order in Star Wars SHOULDN'T have to exist.)

    If it's a sequel, learn from Terminator: Salvation -- don't bother. It will be a middling success, since there's too much to consider against the story in Reloaded/Revolutions (which can't be given the Superman Returns treatment: forgetting that Revolutions exists and making a new ending isn't going to appeal to the mainstream, it will alienate them.)

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 1:00 PM, Facer5 wrote:

    I think The Matrix is dead. Interest in the franchise is at an all time low, and after the disappointing final chapter audiences would need to be courted extensively so they once again care.

    The budget would need to be kept on check if the movie is made.

    I don't see why WB would bother given they can still try to get success with many YA novels which can be made for cheap.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 12:54 AM, ltfan300 wrote:

    Merging the matrix with Terminator is a brilliant Idea, it would make perfect sense as a prequel.

    I think they could go in a few different directions for a prequel because Neo learned in the 2nd movie that there was 6 versions of the matrix before his. But some might think if they went with this idea that it would just be like the original, but who knows.

    They could a live version of the 2nd renaissance but that would be just like a sequel to the terminator movies. So I don't know but I do feel this is one reboot that would be interesting to see

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 2:07 AM, rugratz2222 wrote:

    I say visit the Terminator series and do the screen plays from the books from SM Stirling that start right after Terminator 2 ended - skip the movie T3 (and Terminator Salvation) altogether because both were a joke ... the books are fantastic and have enough material for 3 movies themsevles, one for each book. Would love to see them on film.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 2:30 AM, archer1620 wrote:

    i heard that some lady that wrote or had somthing to do with the scripts of the matrix or terminator and that they were supposed to be linked. and i guess everyone else thinks so as well. but im sure holowood will take a grand idea like linking these two stories and ignoire it completely.. oh well.

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