"Matrix" Finale Set for "Zero Hour"
by Josh Grossberg
Look out, the Matrix really is taking over the world.
Warner Bros. has announced that in a whoa-worthy bit of synchronicity The Matrix Revolutions, the concluding chapter in the Wachowski brothers' hit sci-fi trilogy, will be released simultaneously in nearly 70 countries.
The man-versus-machine epic starring Keanu Reeves will officially hit theaters on November 5 at what Warners execs call the "zero hour", the exact same moment across the globe. That means Revolutions will open at 6 a.m. in Los Angeles, 9 a.m. in New York, 2 p.m. in London, 5 p.m. in Moscow, and 11 p.m. in Tokyo.
"It was a thought that came up a long time ago about almost a year ago, and it did not come from the Wachowskis, it actually came from inside the studio," says Veronica Kwan-Rubinek, president of international distribution at the studio.
"It was something we were thinking about even before Reloaded came out and it took a lot of coordination to make sure all the pieces were in place."
Such a release strategy has never before been attempted by Tinseltown. The closest a studio has come to doing such simultaneous, synchronized release was in May, when Fox opened X2 on the same day in 80 countries, but not at the same hour.
But Hollywood studios have been headed in this direction for some time for two reasons--a global release helps thwart piracy (which tends to be higher in those countries that have to wait the longest for the latest blockbuster) and also ups the hype factor, helping ensure studios a monster opening weekend.
"The zero hour simultaneous opening of Revolutions once again positions the Matrix films as the cutting-edge experience in motion pictures," says Dan Fellman, president of Warner's domestic distribution. "Audiences came out to see The Matrix Reloaded in record numbers, and we appreciate the enthusiasm, collaboration and support of our exhibitors in helping us bring The Matrix Revolutions to audiences on November 5."
Revolutions will also screen at selected Imax venues, the first time a major Hollywood release has ever premiered concurrently on both 35mm and the large-screen format.
According to producer Joel Silver, it wasn't until studio execs saw the success of Reloaded, which had the biggest opening weekend ever for an R-rated movie, grossing $91.8 million, that they gave the go-ahead for the "zero hour" gimmick.
"We received such an overwhelming response to Reloaded from audiences around the globe that the Wachowski brothers wanted to give our fans the chance to experience the final piece of the Matrix puzzle at the same time in every major city worldwide," Silver said. "It's an incredibly complex and exciting venture that furthers the Wachowskis' vision and underscores the trilogy's theme of integration."
The Matrix Reloaded has become the highest grossing R-rated film in history, raking in more than $734 million worldwide. The second installment's DVD, including hours of behind-the-scenes footage, a breakdown of the freeway chase, interviews with the cast and crew and a featurette on the making of The Animatrix, hits stores on October 14.
And given Revolutions supposedly wraps up the fate of Zion and offers the final showdown between Neo and his virus-like nemesis Agent Smith, movie-biz observers say the final Matrix trip will do likely even brisker box office.