Riding The Keanaissance: Keanu Reeves Could Propel 'Matrix 4' To New Heights
by Travis Bean
I think we're all still reeling a bit from the news, which still doesn't even seem real. But apparently it's true: a fourth Matrix film is coming, and it's going to star our main man Keanu Reeves.
For the man who has had a year of resurgence thanks to new projects, we're suddenly being pulled back into the '80s and '90s with Reeves' upcoming projects that tread on old territory. With all those projects, Reeves seems to be flooding the movie zeitgeist from every possible direction, capturing several markets all at once: our collective craving for movies starring aging hitmen with John Wick; families looking for a night out at the theater with Toy Story 4; and our culture's current obsession with nostalgia with Bill & Ted and The Matrix.
What Reeves has accomplished thus far in 2019 is nothing short of incredible for an actor who was seemingly past his prime. Toy Story 4 became Reeves' highest-grossing movie of all time with $425.5 million domestically and $1.018 billion worldwide. And before that, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum became the most profitable of the John Wick series, raking in $170.7 million domestically and $321.3 million worldwide. In total, the John Wick franchise has amassed over $580 million.
Oh, and let's not forget: Marvel even wants in on the Keanu action now. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said they've approached Reeves a few times for franchise films, which means a deal must be on the horizon.
On top of its all, Reeves is now rumored to be part of the Fast and Furious franchise, and could possibly be playing the faceless villain of Hobbs & Shaw.
There's just no escaping it: more than ever in Reeves' career, you can build not just around a single movie, but around an entire franchise with him. At this point Reeves seems to be exclusively starring in vehicles that lead to sequels and tangential films. Moviegoers are so hungry for the resurgence that they'll pay the price of admission multiple times to experience the Keanaissance.
Which is huge news for the Matrix films—especially since the box office market is so different today than it was since the last Matrix film 16 years ago.
First of all, what U.S. audiences crave has changed completely. Just look at John Wick. In the U.S. alone, Reeves was able to propel Chapter 3's earnings ($170.7 million) past The Matrix Revolutions' ($139.3 million). Whereas John Wick: Chapter Two was largely seen as a success, Revolutions was burdened by a disappointing predecessor. John Wick is a franchise that has yet to peter out, which means thousands of people will hit theaters across the country every time a new movie drops.
On top of it all, Americans are hungry for nostalgic throwbacks. We're in an age where Aladdin and The Lion King remakes are more anticipated than any original film hitting theaters. Enough time has passed between 2003 and 2019 to where people don't even remember how much they hated Reloaded and Revolutions—they just crave the updated material to a beloved franchise of yesteryear.
But really, where The Matrix 4 can do some real damage is at the worldwide box office. More and more studios are opting for premieres and longer runs in foreign territories. For instance, Spider-Man: Far From Home's worldwide premiere took place in China, Hong Kong and Japan, where it raked in $110.8 million before it even premiered in the States. Studios have become more and more savvy about marketing to international audiences and where they play their films, so you can expect Warner Bros. to do the same with Matrix 4.
Especially give the franchise's international success in the past. These days, it's rare for a non-Marvel non-Disney film to make over $500 million in foreign territories. But back in the late '90s and early 2000s? The Matrix series was making a killing, pulling in $460.6 million for The Matrix Reloaded alone—when we account for inflation, that total skyrockets to Marvel and Disney levels. And that was years before studios had upped their international marketing techniques.
Then let's not forget the biggest factor of all, which combines U.S. moviegoers and international audiences together: our insatiable appetite for franchises and cinematic universes. Just like Star Wars' multi-billion dollar comeback, we can expect the filmmakers to expand the Matrix universe and introduce new elements that will set up future films. That anticipation alone could propel the film, just like how it drove Star Wars: The Force Awakens to $936.7 million domestically (making it #1 all-time in the States) and $2.068 billion worldwide.
All of these disparate elements are paving the path for The Matrix 4, which will undoubtedly become the first Matrix film to eclipse the $1 billion mark—something only 43 other films have achieved in the history of cinema.
Where it goes from there? Who knows. But given the public's obsession with Keanu, the sky's the limit for this franchise.