Box Office: ‘Matrix Resurrections’ Passes China Censorship

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The Matrix Resurrections has gotten the green light for an eventual theatrical release in China, local media outlets in Beijing reported Tuesday.

The fourth film in Warner Bros.’ The Matrix franchise has cleared local censorship but has yet to receive an exact release date. The film is set for U.S. release on Dec. 22 and will debut day-and-date on HBO Max.

The Matrix franchise is a fan favorite in China, but the series came out long before the country emerged as the major market force it is today. Most fans came to the first two films in the franchise, The Matrix (1999) and The Matrix Reloaded (2003), via the DVD piracy that was ubiquitous in China at the time. The Matrix Revolutions (also released in 2003) was the first Hollywood film to open theatrically in China day-and-date with major Western markets — but it screened in just 12 cinemas in Beijing and relatively few elsewhere, a reflection of the country’s limited exhibition infrastructure in that era.

Today, China is the world’s largest theatrical market, having surged past North America in total box office revenue in 2020. Amid a rise in state-level tensions between Washington and Beijing and growing nationalism among the Chinese public, the number of U.S. studio releases in China has been in decline. At present, no major Hollywood movie has a confirmed release date in the country for the last two months of 2021 — a reality that would have been unthinkable during the box-office boom years preceding the pandemic.

If Matrix 4 manages to squeeze into the market before the end of the year, it should benefit from some pent-up demand for Hollywood product and a recent local audience penchant for high-concept sci-fi.

Resurrections picks up the story of Neo/Thomas A. Anderson (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) twenty years later, with both still trapped inside the simulated computer-generated world but with no memory of their past or each other.

The film also stars Jada Pinkett Smith (returning to the franchise) along with series newcomers Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Christina Ricci.

Like all previous Matrix films, Resurrections is written and directed by Lana Wachowski, with Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon co-writing this installment.

The first trailer for the film was released in September.

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