Warner Bros/Village Roadshow’s highly anticipated The Matrix Resurrections has been cleared for release in China, however an exact date is yet to be fixed. Warner’s official Weibo account posted the news, saying the film “is confirmed to be introduced, and it will be released in theaters nationwide soon!”
The fourth Matrix installment, both a reboot and sequel of sorts, begins early offshore rollout December 16 with domestic and the majority of international markets starting December 22 and through the Christmas frame. Matrix 4 is currently the only Hollywood title thought to be on the China docket (although there is speculation that Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home will also make it to Chinese screens). If Resurrections squeezes in before the end of 2021, it would be a welcome addition in a year that has seen fewer Hollywood titles than is typical.
China has confounded of late, taking a pass on potential hits from Hollywood — notably Marvel movies, which traditionally have been catnip to local audiences — and recently accepted movies that were already greatly available elsewhere. For example, after two weekends, Disney’s Jungle Cruise has grossed just $5.6M in the market where Dwayne Johnson is a draw. Given the lag time, piracy was a factor.
China certainly doesn’t “need” the money that big-ticket Hollywood titles are capable of generating — its homegrown tentpoles fare well. But, it does need Hollywood product to sustain it as the world’s largest film market after the pandemic ends.
The country’s Film Administration earlier this month outlined its 14th “Five-Year Plan” for the development of Chinese films with plans to increase the number of movie screens in the country to 100,000 by 2025. Along with that, the regulator will be promoting 10 domestic tentpoles each year.
As of mid-November, China had passed RMB 43B ($6.7B) in box office, led by war title The Battle at Lake Changjin which is currently at over RMB 5.68B/$890M.
The Matrix Resurrections, directed by Lana Wachowski, is set 20 years after the events of The Matrix Revolutions. It finds Neo (Keanu Reeves) living a seemingly ordinary life as Thomas A Anderson in San Francisco, where his therapist prescribes him blue pills. Neither he nor Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) recognize each other. Subsequently, however, Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) offers him the red pill and reopens his mind to the world of the Matrix.