The Toronto Star (Ca), April 7, 1999

What is The Matrix? A big-money maker

by Peter Howell

Sci-fi sleeper hits theatres like a midsummer blockbuster

The Matrix has legs. Big, brawny computer-generated ones.

The Keanu Reeves sci-fi thriller about hackers fighting crazed computers has become the year's big cult movie, making cash registers ring and packing movie houses with repeat viewers.

The movie, which debuted a week ago today, has grossed $37.4 million (U.S.) in North America so far - $2.6 million in Canada - the biggest opening of the still-young year and the best-ever showing for an Easter weekend release.

"I absolutely adore it," said Sasha Gajic, 22, a second-year Classics student at Peterborough's Trent University.

"I've already seen it three times and I'm seeing it again tomorrow. I'll probably see it five times before it leaves theatres. It just has a completely fresh, different approach to a movie.

"I expected more of an action sci-fi hit and it actually came out with a strong storyline and very strong acting."

Gajic had plenty of company for his repeat visits to theatres. The Matrix hit like a summer movie.

"It opened like a summer blockbuster," said Marci Davies, a Cineplex Odeon vice-president.

"It caught everybody by surprise. It's certainly nice to have a picture open like that."

Torontonians seems [sici] to be particularly caught up in The Matrix's web.

Famous Players' new Colossus theatre in Vaughan, which was showing the movie on four screens, had the second-highest ticket sales in North America, after Union Square in New York City.

The movie has attracted a surprisingly wide age range of viewers.

Many thirtysomething women were seen in the audience at a Market Square screening Sunday night, possibly attracted by poster boy Reeves or by the butt-kicking heroics of female lead Carrie-Anne Moss.

But the main audience is mostly people in their teens and 20s, Davies said.

"I think just the fact there's nothing out there for the younger audience right now and the fact it was a long weekend with no school Monday helped make Sunday as busy as it was. We think the picture is going to continue to do terrific business."

Terrific repeat business, judging by the enthusiastic postings to The Matrix message board on America Online.

Comparisons are already being made that the planned trilogy of The Matrix could become like the hallowed original Star Wars trilogy.

"This movie was the best thing I've seen in a long time," posted a fan with the AOL screen name BigBird310.

"It kicked so much ass that I would see it 31 more times."

"This is a must-see, you won't be disappointed," chipped in another fan, with the screen name JasonA8.

"I can almost guarantee that this will become a sci-fi classic like Aliens or Star Wars."




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