Although yesterday we discussed the reasons why Matrix Resurrections is not yet available on HBO Max, in the United States it was released on the platform at the same time as in theaters. This action that served to promote HBO Max did not please everyone and a few hours ago a lawsuit was filed against WarnerMedia.
A co-producer of the film, Village Roadshow Films, has filed a lawsuit against WarnerMedia in Los Angeles Superior Court. They consider that the strategy used has reduced the income they would have obtained if it had only been released in theaters.
They comment that this dynamic of the entertainment giant is called Project Popcorn. According to the plaintiffs, it is a “underground scheme by WarnerMedia to materially reduce the box office and correlated ancillary revenues generated by blockbuster movies that Village Roadshow and others would have the right“, to push HBO Max in return.
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They also claim that this puts more Matrix movies at risk because the “box office sales figures for Matrix Resurrections dilute the value of this blockbuster franchise because the lack of profitability of a movie generally prevents studios from investing in additional sequels and spin-off movies anytime soon.”
The news recalls Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney for the same reason and the way in which she reduced her benefits without her having the opportunity to intervene. And, most importantly, after the signed contract.
The results of this policy by WarnerMedia are difficult to quantify, but it is obvious that it has somewhat diminished the benefits they could have obtained from the film. Although it is also true that they competed in theaters with the unstoppable success of Spider-Man: No Way Home.
It’s worth noting that Village Roadshow Pictures may not be a household name here, but it’s a major production company that has co-financed more than 90 titles with WarnerMedia, including hits like Joker, according to The Verge.
We will be attentive to how the conflict progresses and if an agreement is reached between the two companies, but it is a good example of the tensions generated by this new mode of simultaneous distribution. And all this without taking into account the problems it poses for the same movie theaters.