News of Matrix reboot, possibly with different directors, causes storm on social media

A report about Warner Bros developing a new Matrix film has fans concerned, especially as the Wachowskis and Keanu Reeves may not be involved

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 3:31pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 4:03pm

A reboot of The Matrix is said to be in the works, but many fans would rather see Warner Bros choose a different pill.

The Hollywood Reporter says that Warner Bros is developing a relaunch of the 1999 film, which spawned two far less beloved sequels. Any new Matrix film is in such an early stage that it may – like countless other projects in development – never amount to anything. Warner Bros has declined to share any details of its plans.

But the report was enough to stoke a backlash on social media over any tampering with the Wachowskis’ trench-coated, slow-motion bullet science-fiction creation. Reboots, you may have noticed, are common in Hollywood these days. And while rehashing old favourites often causes consternation among fans, the possibility of a new Matrix film touched a nerve.

On one hand, the dystopian vision of The Matrix, about a rebellion against machine-controlled rule, would seem ideal for today. After all, many have recently suggested the world has tipped into a simulated reality of its own.

Also, wounded fan feelings have been known to soften under the right conditions. Get the right talent involved, secure the necessary blessings, talk about “mining” the story’s boundless “universe” and you could – come opening weekend – have a Matrix version of the The Force Awakens on your hands.

But there’s also reason to believe filmgoers are increasingly saying no to cash-grab reboots. The reasons for their demise were various, but last summer was a graveyard of underwhelming redos, including Alice Through the Looking Glass , Independence Day: Resurgence and Ghostbusters .

Still, remakes and sequels remain, overwhelmingly, the biggest box-office hits. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast , another refashioned ’90s fairy tale, is expected to open with more than US$130 million in ticket sales this weekend and may ultimately gross US$1 billion worldwide.

So why is the prospect of more Matrix particularly jarring? Here are three reasons:

1. No Wachowskis

Though they could, of course, get involved in some capacity in the future, they aren’t currently attached as directors for the new project. For many, a Matrix without Lana and Lilly Wachowski – the writers and directors of all three films – is anathema. Although their subsequent films – Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending and the Matrix sequels – have been largely received as misfires, they’ve never lacked ambition, daring or imagination. That goes double for their Netflix series Sense8. Keanu Reeves has said their involvement is necessary for his participation in any new Matrix film. Yet despite Reeves’ action-hero bona fides (see John Wick and its sequel) and the Wachowskis continually churning out sci-fi, Warner Bros is said to be exploring a different filmmaker and star. Avengers scribe Zak Penn may write the script.

2. Originality was the main thrill of The Matrix

The disappointing sequels notwithstanding, The Matrix was exhilaratingly current, even futuristic, in its special-effects innovations, distinctive visuals and philosophical underpinnings. A remake goes against the film’s defining quality. The Matrix won four Oscars and made US$463.5 million worldwide. Among the many to decry a reboot was Full Frontal writer Travon Free, who said: ”An original masterpiece called Get Out made US$113M on a US$4M budget and Warner Bros is rebooting The Matrix. Spend that money on new ideas!“

3. Too soon.

Although quick reboots have happened before (Spider-Man may have set the record at a mere five years) The Matrix doesn’t yet feel especially dated at 18 years old. But as Hollywood begins veering into the ’90s for remake-ready intellectual property, Generation X is beginning to experience what has long been a constant for baby boomers.