Village Roadshow, the co-producer of The Matrix Resurrections film is suing Warner Bros alleging releasing the film on the HBO Max streaming service and in theaters simultaneously harmed takings at the box office and was a breach of contract.
In a suit filed in the Los Angeles superior court on Monday, Village Roadshow also alleged that Warner Bros, owned by AT&T Inc unit WarnerMedia, had moved the release date of the film to 2021 from 2022 to help the streaming service HBO Max attract more subscribers.
The lawsuit pointed to other box-office winners such as SpiderMan: No Way Home that were released in late 2021 without a simultaneous streaming release.
‘We have no doubt that this case will be resolved in our favor,’ a spokesperson for Warner Bros said.
Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, co-producer of The Matrix Resurrections is suing Warner Bros for releasing the film at the same time as in theaters
Suit alleges that Warner Bros. released the Matrix sequel on HBO Max in order to prop up the streaming service but by doing so it ‘cannibalize box office sales’
The complaint filed on Monday morning alleges ‘deliberate and consistent coordinated efforts’ by Warner Bros (WB) ‘to eviscerate the significant value of Village Roadshow’s intellectual property in order to prop up the new HBO Max streaming service and shut Village Roadshow out of its legal and contractual rights of the nearly 100 films that Village Roadshow funded and co-owns’ with WB.’
Warner Bros had announced in late 2020 that its entire slate of movies for 2021 would be available in theaters and on HBO Max on the same day.
The complaint notes that while WB used the pandemic as its rationale for releasing The Matrix Resurrections simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters, other films, such as Spiderman, were released in late 2021 without a simultaneous streaming service release, and managed to break box office records pulling in $1.77billion. The Matrix Resurrections earned only $37 million at the domestic box office, the lowest result of any of the films in the Matrix series.
Initially, The Matrix Resurrections was to be released in 2022, but it was brought forward so that it could be included with the 2021 slate of films that it planned to release simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters.
The Matrix Resurrections was released on HBO Max in December on the same day of the film’s theatrical release. The film flopped earning only $37 million at the domestic box office
In 2021, Warner Bros released its entire film slate on HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously, citing the coronavirus pandemic
The suit alleges that all WB’s wholly-owned films were shifted to 2022 so that they would not suffer the same decimating fate.
The complaint states that WB is required to ‘distribute each film in a manner ‘consistent with industry standards’ and ‘consistent with customary commercial practices in the motion picture industry’,’ and that ‘WB expressly agreed not to make sweetheart deals with its affiliates’, in this case, HBO Max.
HBO Max had ended 2021 with 73.8 million combined subscribers, exceeding projections.
Instead, WB released The Matrix Resurrections on its sister company’s new HBO Max streaming service on the same ‘day and date’ as the film’s theatrical release ‘in the sweetest of sweetheart deals: for nothing.’
The complaint further alleges that WB entered a ‘sweetheart deal’ in order to pump up HBO Max’s subscriber base, and that WB knew that doing so would cannibalize box office sales paving the way for massive piracy and decimating the film’s value.
Over the past 25 years, Village Roadshow has paid Warner Brose more than $4.5 billion to produce and distribute 91 films, for which Village Roadshow co-owns all intellectual property rights, including a share of the films’ global copyrights, according to the complaint.
Other films, such as Spiderman, were released in late 2021 without a simultaneous streaming service release, and managed to break box office records pulling in $1.77billion
Those films include blockbuster hits such as The Matrix trilogy, Joker, the Ocean’s series, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Edge of Tomorrow.
The complaint also notes that ‘That depth and length of the parties’ relationship—with not a single litigation between them until now—was unique in the entertainment industry.’
The suit also quotes WB and WarnerMedia executives, including WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, boasting of the success of the effort, code named ‘Project Popcorn.’
The complaint quotes Kilar as saying ‘We’d make the same decision again,’ even though that decision ‘ensured that The Matrix Resurrections would be a bust at the box office . . . and inflicted serious harm to the entire Matrix franchise.’
The news underlines growing tensions between entertainment players as media companies sharpen their focus on their streaming platforms at the cost of traditional distribution platforms.
Black Widow actress Scarlett Johansson sued Disney in July alleging that the company breached her contract when it offered the movie on streaming at the same it played in theaters
Last year, actress Scarlett Johansson got into a legal dispute with Walt Disney Co over the film Black Widow after the company offered the movie on its subscription streaming service Disney+ at the same time the film was playing in theaters.
Johansson, 36, filed her lawsuit in July alleging that she lost out on more than $50million as a result of the film being released on streaming service Disney+ at the same time as its debut in the cinema.
The actress claimed she had been guaranteed that Black Widow would have an exclusive theatrical release, and that the bulk of her salary was based on the box office performance, but Disney countered that Johansson was paid $20 million for the film regardless.
‘I am happy to have resolved our differences with Disney,’ said Johansson in a statement. ‘I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done together over the years and have greatly enjoyed my creative relationship with the team. I look forward to continuing our collaboration in years to come.’
The terms of the deal have not been disclosed however, Entertainment news outlet Deadline put the settlement’s value at ‘more than $40 million,’ citing unnamed sources.
The movie, starring Johansson as the cat-suited superspy Natasha Romanoff, was available online to Disney+ subscribers for an extra fee of $30 at the same time as its release in traditional theaters.
To date, Black Widow has earned $379 million at the worldwide box office.
Johansson’s suit argued that the dual release strategy of Black Widow both in theaters and on Disney+ had reduced her compensation
At the time of filing in July, Disney blasted Johansson’s claims saying that it had been fair to her.
‘The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,’ the company said, adding her $20million fee for this film and $15million fee Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
In her suit, actress Scarlett Johansson, 36, (pictured) alleged she’d lost more than $50million in earnings as a result of Black Widow being released on Disney+ at the same time as theaters
‘Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson’s contract,’ the company noted.
‘Furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.
CAA co-chairman Bryan Lourd shot back saying: ‘Disney hamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic, in an attempt to make her appear to be someone they and I know she isn’t.’
Black Widow was one of a number of big-budget movies including Wonder Woman by Warner Bros and Cruella and Jungle Cruise from Disney that were both streamed and shown in theaters simultaneously.
Like Johansson, multiple stars and directors have pushed back on the shift to streaming service releases because they cut into the much larger profits that come from traditional months-long exclusive theater runs – but Johansson is the only major movie star to sue to date.
Warner Bros. and WarnerMedia was forced to pay more than $200million to talent up front last year to compensate for filmmakers’ loss of traditional profit participation after it chose to release movies on HBO Max at no additional cost to consumers.
Christopher Nolan, one of Warner Bros’ most important filmmakers, came out strongly against the company’s decision to debut its films on HBO Max and in theaters in 2021
In 2020, Academy Award-winning director Christopher Nolan spoke out against Warner Bros’s plan to stream its films on HBO Max saying the plan made no economic sense.
Nolan, whose thriller Tenet was released by the studio in 2020 said the work of top talent was being used ‘as a loss leader for a fledgling streaming service.’
‘There’s such controversy around it, because they didn’t tell anyone,’ Nolan said in an interview with Entertainment Tonigh.
‘I’ve never seen everybody so upset about one particular decision,’ Nolan said.
When asked about the ‘long-term repercussions’ of Warner Bros’ seismic shift to HBO Max, Nolan said that he believed theaters as a whole would bounce back.
‘Long-term, I think all of the studios know that the movie theater experience will bounce back and be a very important part of the ecosystem long-term. What you have right now in our business is a lot of the use of the pandemic as an excuse for sort of grappling for short-term advantage. And it’s really unfortunate,’ he said.
‘It’s not the way to do business and it’s not the best thing for the health of our industry,’ Nolan added.
Village Roadshow SUES Warner Bros for putting The Matrix Resurrection on HBO Max without consulting appeared first on maserietv.com.