Fans clamoring for entrance to 'Matrix' world
by Andy Seiler
Whoa. Keanu Reeves' favorite catchphrase seems more apt than ever as anticipation builds for The Matrix Reloaded, coming May 15. A second sequel, The Matrix Revolutions, opens Nov. 5.
The most anticipated movie of the summer is definitely The Matrix Reloaded. It excites millions of moviegoers on a very basic level," says Greg Dean Schmitz, who monitors Matrix mania at Yahoo's Greg's Previews site
- Box office buzz. Analysts agree that the film will bring in $200 million to $300 million. The original Matrix grossed $171.4 million in 1999. If Reloaded hits $300 million, it would be the No. 15 movie of all time.
- Internet traffic. "It was the No. 1 most-visited page for all of 2000, 2001 and 2002," Schmitz says. Tickets go on sale online through AOL Moviefone, Fandango and Movietickets.com May 1.
- The coming-attractions trailer. Nearly 4.5 million people have downloaded the final trailer at thematrix.com, putting it on course to be Warner Bros.' most downloaded trailer ever.
- The secrecy campaign. Fans curse Warner's tantalizing reluctance to give away details. "How do I know their game plan is working?" asks columnist Jeffrey Wells, who has railed on about it on moviepoopshoot.com. "Because I wish like hell they would show me this thing as soon as possible."
- The game Enter the Matrix. Scripted by filmmakers Andy and Larry Wachowski and due the same day as the film, it's "the No. 1 best-selling pre-order in Xbox and GameCube games, and the No. 3 in PC games and PlayStation 2 games," says Wendell South, senior buyer at Amazon.com. Though not yet matching pre-orders for Star Wars and Lord of the Rings games, "pre-orders have doubled week over week for the past three."
Curiosity about this story is inspiring near-religious fervor, Wells says.
"All the kids in the world suspect they're living in some kind of plastic, affluent penal colony, and maybe half believe that real life is perhaps more real and vivid on their hard drives than out in the street," he says.
But in one area, The Matrix can't compete with Star Wars or Lord of the Rings collectibles.
"There's no blip on the toy-collecting radar screen," says Sharon Korbeck, editorial director of Toy Shop magazine.
That could change now that the Wachowskis have a deal with McFarlane Toys, pioneers in selling toys for R-rated movies such as Spawn. But Korbeck is skeptical: "The Matrix may have more of a cult following. Maybe in 20 years, it will have that mainstream following — but I doubt it."