Neo's pay-off: The final installment
by Garry Maddox
It all started up the hill at Fox Studios when two little-known brothers, Larry and Andy Wachowski, shot a sci-fi film away from the Hollywood spotlight.
Almost six years later, the final chapter arrived when The Matrix Revolutions premiered at the Opera House last night.
The first instalment, costing less than $100 million, became an international blockbuster and spawned two sequels costing $424 million. And before Revolutions reaches cinemas around the world this week, the series has already grossed almost $1.7 billion.
Three of the stars, Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving and Jada Pinkett-Smith, joined producer Joel Silver on the black rubber carpet. Other guests included the Premier, Bob Carr, singer Jimmy Barnes and swimmer Kieren Perkins.
They arrived by road or boat and made their way up the Opera House stairs via a black carpet to mingle with 1200 guests and be watched by as many fans.
Before the screening, Reeves admitted he was far from the first choice as computer hacker turned saviour Neo.
It was a role that redefined the action hero and made Reeves one of Hollywood's highest-paid actors.
"I think I was number 33 in a line of people they met," he said.
But Reeves connected with the Wachowski brothers through a shared interest in sci-fi novelists and graphic art.
While filming in Sydney, Reeves said he had few problems with star-struck fans. "People here will come up and say 'hi'. But after that, there's a real kind of respect."
Weaving, who returns in Revolutions as Agent Smith, said it was bizarre seeing a hundred versions of himself on screen.
"It was pretty odd seeing hundreds of dummies of me lying around," he said.
Things took a surreal turn when he saw a bucket containing his head on set one day.
"They offered me a dummy but I thought, what would I do with it - put it in a cupboard and scare my children?"
Silver said Revolutions was definitely the last Matrix movie.
"I look at Reloaded as set-up and Revolutions as pay-off," he said.
"It's a whole movie of pay-off."
Why did the sequels cost so much? Silver said it took about $140 million in production costs to make the latest film, $140 million in salaries and above-the-line costs, and $140 million in visual effects.
Caption: Sci-fi favourites . . . Hugo Weaving, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Keanu Reeves at the Opera House launch yesterday. Photo: Andrew Meares