The Matrix (franchise)

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The Matrix
Ultimate Matrix Collection poster.jpg
Created by
Original workThe Matrix (1999)
OwnerWarner Bros. Entertainment
Print publications
Book(s)List of books
Short storiesIncluded in The Matrix Comics
  • The Matrix Comics Series 1–3 (1999–2003)
  • The Matrix Comics Volumes 1 & 2 (2003–2004)
  • The Matrix Comics: 20th Anniversary Edition (2019)
Magazine(s)The Matrix Online: The Official Magazine (2005)
Films and television
Video game(s)
Soundtrack(s)List of albums

The Matrix is an American media franchise created by writers-directors the Wachowskis and producer Joel Silver. The series consists of four, beginning with The Matrix (1999) and continuing with three sequels, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions (both in 2003) and The Matrix Resurrections (2021). The films are written and directed by the Wachowskis and produced by Joel Silver. The franchise is owned by Warner Bros., which distributed the films along with Village Roadshow Pictures. The latter, along with Silver Pictures, are the two production companies that worked on the first three films.

The series features a cyberpunk story of the technological fall of humanity, in which the creation of artificial intelligence led the way to a race of self-aware machines that imprisoned mankind in a virtual reality system—the Matrix—to be farmed as a power source. Occasionally, some of the prisoners manage to break free from the system and, considered a threat, become pursued by the artificial intelligence both inside and outside of it. The films focus on the plight of Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) trying to free humanity from the system while pursued by its guardians, such as Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). The story incorporates references to numerous philosophical, religious, or spiritual ideas, among others the dilemma of choice vs. control, the brain in a vat thought experiment, messianism, and the concepts of inter-dependency and love. Influences include the principles of mythology, anime, and Hong Kong action films (particularly "heroic bloodshed" and martial arts movies). The film series is notable for its use of heavily choreographed action sequences and "bullet time" slow motion effects, which revolutionized action films to come.

The characters and setting of the films are further explored in other media set in the same fictional universe, including animation, comics, and video games. The comic "Bits and Pieces of Information" and The Animatrix short film "The Second Renaissance" act as prequels to the films, explaining how the franchise's setting came to be. The video game Enter the Matrix connects the story of the Animatrix short "Final Flight of the Osiris" with the events of Reloaded, while the online video game The Matrix Online was a direct sequel to Revolutions. These were typically written, commissioned, or approved by the Wachowskis.

The first film was an important critical and commercial success, winning four Academy Awards, introducing popular culture symbols such as the red pill and blue pill, and influencing action filmmaking. For those reasons, it has been added to the National Film Registry for preservation.[1] Its first sequel was also a commercial success, becoming the highest-grossing R-rated film in history, until it was surpassed by Deadpool in 2016. As of 2006, the franchise has generated $3 billion in revenue. A fourth film, The Matrix Resurrections, is set to be released on December 22, 2021, with Lana Wachowski producing, co-writing and directing and Reeves and Moss reprising their roles.


The series depicts a future in which Earth is dominated by a race of self-aware machines that was spawned from the creation of artificial intelligence early in the 21st century. At one point conflict arose between mankind and machines, and the machines rebelled against their creators. Mankind attempted to block out the machines' source of solar power by covering the sky in thick, stormy clouds. A massive war emerged between the two adversaries which ended with the machines victorious, capturing mankind. Having lost their definite source of energy, the machines devised a way to extract the human body's bioelectric and thermal energies by enclosing people in pods, while their minds are controlled by cybernetic implants connecting them to a simulated reality called the Matrix.

The virtual reality world simulated by the Matrix resembles human civilization around the turn of the 21st century (this time period was chosen because it is supposedly the pinnacle of human civilization). The environment inside the Matrix is practically indistinguishable from reality (although scenes set within the Matrix are presented on-screen with a green tint to the footage, and a general bias towards the color green), and the vast majority of humans connected to it are unaware of its true nature. Most of the central characters in the series are able to gain superhuman abilities within the Matrix by taking advantage of their understanding of its true nature to manipulate its virtual physical laws. The films take place both inside the Matrix and outside of it, in the real world; the parts that take place in the Matrix are set in a vast Western megacity.

The virtual world is first introduced in The Matrix. The short comic "Bits and Pieces of Information" and the Animatrix short film The Second Renaissance show how the initial conflict between mankind and machines came about, and how and why the Matrix was first developed. Its history and purpose are further explained in The Matrix Reloaded. In The Matrix Revolutions a new status quo is established in the Matrix's place in mankind and machines' conflict. This was further explored in The Matrix Online, a now defunct MMORPG.


Film U.S. release date Directed by Written by Produced by Status
The Matrix March 31, 1999 (1999-03-31) The Wachowskis Joel Silver Released
The Matrix Reloaded May 15, 2003 (2003-05-15)
The Matrix Revolutions November 5, 2003 (2003-11-05)
The Matrix Resurrections December 22, 2021 (2021-12-22) Lana Wachowski Lana Wachowski, David Mitchell & Aleksandar Hemon Grant Hill, James McTeigue, and Lana Wachowski Post-production


During production of the original trilogy, the Wachowskis told their close collaborators that, "at that time they had no intention of making another Matrix film after The Matrix Revolutions".[2][3][4][5] In February 2015, in promotion interviews for Jupiter Ascending, Lilly Wachowski called a return to The Matrix "a particularly repelling idea in these times", noting studios' tendencies to "greenlight" sequels, reboots, and adaptations, in preference to original material.[6] Meanwhile, Lana Wachowski, in addressing rumors about a potential reboot, stated that "...they had not heard anything, but she believed that the studio might be looking to replace them".[7] At various times, Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving each confirmed their interest and willingness to reprise their roles in potential future installments of the Matrix films, with the stipulation that the Wachowskis were involved in the creative and production process.[8][9]

Other projects[edit]

In March 2017, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Warner Bros., was in the early stages of developing a re-launch of the franchise. Consideration was given to producing a Matrix television series, but was dismissed as the studio opted to pursue negotiations with Zak Penn in writing a treatment for a new film, with Michael B. Jordan eyed for the lead role. According to the article, the Wachowskis were not involved at that point.[10] In response to the report, Penn refuted all statements regarding a reboot, remake, or continuation, remarking that he was working on stories set in the pre-established continuity.[11]

Potential plotlines being considered by Warner Bros. Pictures included a prequel film about a young Morpheus, or an alternate storyline with a focus on one of his descendants.[10][12][13] By April 2018, Penn described the script as "being at a nascent stage".[14][15] Later, in September 2019, Jordan addressed the rumors of his involvement by saying he was "flattered", but without making a definitive statement.[16] In October 2019, Penn confirmed the script he wrote is set within an earlier time period than the first three films in the franchise.[17]

Cast and crew[edit]


Character Films Video games Animated film
The Matrix The Matrix Reloaded The Matrix Revolutions The Matrix Resurrections Enter the Matrix The Matrix Online The Matrix:
Path of Neo
The Animatrix


Thomas A. Anderson
Keanu Reeves Appeared Andrew Bowen Keanu Reeves
Trinity Carrie-Anne Moss Jennifer Hale Carrie-Anne Moss
Morpheus Laurence Fishburne Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Laurence Fishburne  
Cypher Joe Pantoliano  
Tank Marcus Chong  
Niobe   Jada Pinkett Smith Gina Torres Kimberly Brooks  
Link   Harold Perrineau   Harold Perrineau Keith Ferguson  
Cdr. Lock   Harry Lennix   Harry Lennix  
The Kid
Michael Karl Popper
  Clayton Watson   Clayton Watson   Clayton Watson
Cllr. Hamann   Anthony Zerbe   Anthony Zerbe  
Cpt. Roland   David Roberts   David Roberts  
Zee   Nona Gaye  
Cpt. Mifune   Nathaniel Lees  
Bane   Ian Bliss   Gideon Emery  
Cis   Appeared   Hedy Burress
Thadeus   Kevin Michael Richardson   Kevin Michael Richardson
Duo   Phil LaMarr
Kaiser   John DiMaggio
Jue   Pamela Adlon
Robbie   Tom Kenny
Alexa   Melinda Clarke
Sandro   Jack Fletcher
Chyron   Rodney Saulsberry
Nonaka   Dwight Schultz
Raul   James Arnold Taylor
Rox   Olivia d'Abo


Agent Smith Hugo Weaving Hugo Weaving Hugo Weaving (archive footage) Hugo Weaving Appeared Christopher Corey Smith  
Ian Bliss Gideon Emery
Agent Brown Paul Goddard   Michael Gough Matt McKenzie
Agent Jones Robert Taylor   James M. Connor Kevin Michael Richardson
Agent Johnson   Daniel Bernhardt   Daniel Bernhardt   Fred Tatasciore  
Agent Jackson   David A. Kilde   David A. Kilde   Stephen Stanton  
Agent Thompson   Matt McColm   Matt McColm   Robin Atkin Downes  


The Oracle Gloria Foster Mary Alice   Mary Alice  
Seraph   Collin Chou   Collin Chou Michael Gough  
The Merovingian   Lambert Wilson Robin Atkin Downes  
Persephone   Monica Bellucci   Monica Bellucci  
Keymaker   Randall Duk Kim   Randall Duk Kim   Peter Renaday  
The Architect   Helmut Bakaitis  
Rama Kandra   Bernard White  
Sati   Tanveer K. Atwal   Tanveer K. Atwal  
Trainman   Bruce Spence   Bruce Spence  


Deus Ex Machina   Kevin Michael Richardson
Henry Blasingame
(motion capture)
Machine Ambassador   Kevin Michael Richardson
The Instructor   Julia Fletcher


The following is a list of crew members who have participated in the making of the Matrix film series.

Title Executive producers Director(s) of photography Editor Composer(s)
The Matrix Barrie M. Osborne
Andrew Mason
The Wachowskis
Erwin Stoff
Bruce Berman
Bill Pope Zach Staenberg Don Davis
The Matrix Reloaded The Wachowskis
Grant Hill
Andrew Mason
Bruce Berman
The Matrix Revolutions
The Matrix Resurrections Garrett Grant
Terry Needham
Michael Salven
Jesse Ehrman
Bruce Berman
Daniele Massaccesi
John Toll
Joseph Jett Sally Johnny Klimek
Tom Tykwer


The franchise's first logo, used since the release of the original film in 1999 and is featured throughout its licensed merchandises.

The Matrix series includes a trilogy of feature films, all of which were written and directed by the Wachowskis and produced by Joel Silver, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving. The series was filmed in Australia and began with 1999's The Matrix, which depicts the recruitment of hacker Neo into humanity's rebellion against sentient machines.

The film's mainstream success had backed up the initial idea of making a trilogy.[18] The sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, were filmed simultaneously during one shoot (under the project codename "The Burly Man"),[19] and released in two parts in 2003. They tell the story of the impending attack on the human enclave of Zion by a vast machine army. Neo also learns more about the history of the Matrix and his role as The One. The sequels also incorporate more ambitious action scenes and visual effects.


Box office performance[edit]

The Matrix was highly successful, earning over $460 million worldwide on a modest budget of $63 million. The sequels had a much larger budget of $150 million each; Reloaded was also a big commercial success, earning almost $740 million worldwide and becoming the highest-grossing R-rated film in history,[20][21] a title which it held for 13 years until it was surpassed by the film Deadpool;[22] Revolutions had the world's first simultaneous release across major cities all over the world,[23] which for the first time in history included both a release in China,[24] and a release in IMAX theaters.[25] Its five-day opening at $204 million broke the previous record,[23] but ultimately the film made $427 million, a little less than the original.

Film U.S. release date Box office gross All-time ranking Budget Ref(s)
U.S. and Canada Other territories Worldwide U.S. and Canada Worldwide
The Matrix March 31, 1999 $171,479,930 $292,037,453 $463,517,383 285 232 $63,000,000 [26]
The Matrix Reloaded May 15, 2003 $281,576,461 $457,835,574 $739,412,035 96 103 $150,000,000 [27]
The Matrix Revolutions November 5, 2003 $139,313,948 $288,029,350 $427,343,298 412 262 $150,000,000 [28]
Total $592,370,339 $1,040,618,803 $1,632,989,142 $363,000,000

Critical and public response[edit]

While The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded received positive reviews,[29][30] the critical response to The Matrix Revolutions was more negative.[31] One complaint was that Revolutions did not give answers to the questions raised in Reloaded.[32]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
The Matrix 88% (155 reviews)[29] 73 (35 reviews)[33] A−[34]
The Matrix Reloaded 73% (245 reviews)[30] 62 (40 reviews)[35] B+[34]
The Animatrix 89% (18 reviews)[36] N/A N/A
The Matrix Revolutions 35% (217 reviews)[31] 47 (41 reviews)[37] B[34]
List indicator(s)
  • A dark gray cell indicates the information is not available for the film.


Legal claims[edit]

In April 2003, Sophia Stewart filed a legal complaint in the United States District Court for the Central District of California alleging that the idea of The Matrix (and the 1984 film The Terminator) were plagiarized from her own film treatment titled "The Third Eye".[38][39] The court allowed the lawsuit to move forward in 2005,[40] but Stewart did not attend the hearing. In a 53-page ruling, Judge Margaret Morrow dismissed the case, stating that Stewart and her attorneys "had not entered any evidence to bolster its key claims or demonstrated any striking similarity between her work and the accused directors' films."[38][41] Despite the ruling, the case became the subject of "Internet legend", with many sources claiming Stewart had actually won the lawsuit.[38][41][42][43]

In 2013, Thomas Althouse filed suit in California federal court alleging that ideas for the sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions came from a screenplay he wrote called The Immortals. In a summary judgement for the defendants, Judge R. Gary Klausner stated "The basic premises of The Matrix Trilogy and The Immortals are so different that it would be unreasonable to find their plots substantially similar."[38][44][45][46][47]

Influences and interpretations[edit]

What we were trying to achieve with the story overall was a shift, the same kind of shift that happens for Neo, that Neo goes from being in this sort of cocooned and programmed world, to having to participate in the construction of meaning to his life. And we were like, "Well, can the audience go through the three movies and experience something similar to what the main character experiences?"

So the first movie is sort of typical in its approach. The second movie is deconstructionist, and it assaults all of the things that you thought to be true in the first movie, and so people get very upset, and they're like "Stop attacking me!" in the same way that people get upset with deconstructionist philosophy. I mean, Derrida and Foucault, these people upset us. And then the third movie is the most ambiguous, because it asks you to actually participate in the construction of meaning.

Lana Wachowski, Movie City News, October 13, 2012[48]

The Matrix films makes numerous references to films and literature, and to historical myths and philosophy including Buddhism, Vedanta, Advaita Hinduism, Christianity, Messianism, Judaism, Gnosticism, existentialism, obscurantism, and nihilism. The films' premise resembles Plato's Allegory of the cave, René Descartes's evil demon, Kant's reflections on the Phenomenon versus the Ding an sich, Zhuangzi's "Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly", Marxist social theory and the brain in a vat thought experiment. Many references to Jean Baudrillard's 1981 treatise Simulacra and Simulation appear in the first film. Baudrillard himself considered this a misrepresentation,[49] although Lana Wachowski claims the point the reference was making was misunderstood.[50] There are similarities to cyberpunk works such as the 1984 book Neuromancer by William Gibson,[51] who has described The Matrix as "arguably the ultimate 'cyberpunk' artifact".[52]

Japanese director Mamoru Oshii's 1995 film Ghost in the Shell was a strong influence.[53] Producer Joel Silver has stated that the Wachowskis first described their intentions for The Matrix by showing him that anime and saying, "We wanna do that for real."[54][55] Mitsuhisa Ishikawa of Production I.G, which produced Ghost in the Shell, noted that the anime's high-quality visuals were a strong source of inspiration for the Wachowskis. He also commented, "... cyberpunk films are very difficult to describe to a third person. I'd imagine that The Matrix is the kind of film that was very difficult to draw up a written proposal for to take to film studios." He stated that since Ghost in the Shell had gained recognition in America, the Wachowskis used it as a "promotional tool".[56] Similarities to the 1985 anime film Megazone 23 have also been noticed, but the Wachowskis claimed to have never seen it.[57]

Reviewers have commented on similarities between The Matrix and other late-1990s films such as Strange Days, Dark City, and The Truman Show.[58][59][60] The Wachowskis claimed no influence regarding Dark City, but commented about it and The Truman Show that they thought it was "very strange that Australia came to have three films associated with it that were all about the nature of reality."[57]

Comparisons have also been made to Grant Morrison's comic series The Invisibles; Morrison believes that the Wachowskis essentially plagiarized their work to create the film.[61] The Wachowskis responded that they enjoy the comic, but did not use it for inspiration.[57]

In addition, the similarity of the films' central concept to a device in the long-running series Doctor Who has also been noted. As in the film, the Matrix of that series (introduced in the 1976 serial The Deadly Assassin) is a massive computer system which one enters using a device connecting to the head, allowing users to see representations of the real world and change its laws of physics; but if killed there, they will die in reality.[62]

The first Matrix film features numerous references to the "White Rabbit", the "Rabbit Hole" and mirrors, referring to Lewis Carroll's novels Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871).[63][57]

Matrixism is a new religious movement inspired by the trilogy. A sociologist of religion Adam Possamai describes these types of religions/spiritualities as hyper-real religions due to their eclectic mix of religion/spirituality with elements of popular culture and their connection to the fluid social structures of late capitalism.[64] There is some debate about whether followers of Matrixism are indeed serious about their practice; however, the religion (real or otherwise) has received attention in the media.[65][66]

Following the Wachowskis' coming out as transgender women some years after the release of the films, the first film and the pill analogy have also been analyzed in the context of the Wachowskis' transgender experiences. In this case, taking the red pill and living out of the Matrix symbolizes exploring one's own gender identity, starting the transition and coming out as transgender, as opposed to a continued life in the closet.[67][68] Lilly Wachowski has acknowledged this analysis by calling it "a cool thing because it's an excellent reminder that art is never static".[69]

Home media[edit]

In 2004, Warner Home Video released The Ultimate Matrix Collection, a 10-disc set of the films on DVD. It included the trilogy of films, The Animatrix, and six discs of additional material, including the documentary film The Matrix Revisited, the live action footage shot for Enter the Matrix, and a promotional compilation of The Matrix Online. For this release, The Matrix was remastered under the supervision of the Wachowskis and the trilogy's cinematographer, Bill Pope, to improve its picture quality and make its color timing closer to that of its sequels. At the request of the Wachowskis, as they explain in a written statement that accompanies the boxset, each of the three films is accompanied by two audio commentaries, one by philosophers who liked the films, and another by critics who did not, with the intention that viewers use them as reference points to form their own opinion. The compilation includes 35 hours of bonus material, but some of the extras from earlier, standalone, releases are missing. A Limited Edition of The Ultimate Matrix Collection was also released. It encases the ten discs plus a resin bust of Neo inside an acrylic glass box.[70]

The Ultimate Matrix Collection was later also released on HD DVD (5 discs) and Blu-ray (6 discs) in 2007 and 2008, respectively. The HD DVD release added a picture-in-picture video commentary to the three films and the extras that were missing from the previous DVD compilation.[71] The Blu-ray release presented The Animatrix in high definition for the first time.[72] A pared-down set dubbed The Complete Matrix Trilogy was also released on HD DVD and Blu-ray (3 discs each), which dropped The Animatrix and some of the special features.[73][74]

The Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Matrix Trilogy came out in 2018 (9 discs),[75] and presented the trilogy in 4K resolution and high-dynamic-range video, remastered from the original camera negative and supervised by Bill Pope. In this release, The Matrix is presented with a color grade that reportedly comes closer to its theatrical presentation than any of the previous home video releases.[76][77] The set also includes standard Blu-ray copies of the films sourced from the new 4K master, but is missing The Animatrix and some special features.[78]

Other media and merchandising[edit]

By August 2000, The Matrix DVD had sold over three million copies in United States, becoming the best-selling of all time.[79] By November 2003, The Matrix franchise had generated $677 million from VHS and DVD sales, $162 million from the video game Enter the Matrix (2003), $37 million from The Matrix Reloaded: The Album soundtrack sales, and $3.5 million from licensed merchandise sales.[80] As of 2006, the franchise has grossed $3 billion from all sources worldwide.[81][82]


In acknowledgment of the strong influence of Japanese Anime on the Matrix series, The Animatrix was produced in 2003 to coincide with the release of The Matrix Reloaded. This is a collection of nine animated short films intended to further flesh out the concepts, history, characters, and setting of the series. The objective of The Animatrix project was to give other writers and directors the opportunity to lend their voices and interpretation to the Matrix universe; the Wachowskis conceived of and oversaw the process, and they wrote four of the segments themselves, although they were given to other directors to execute. Many of the segments were produced by notable figures from the world of Japanese animation. Four of the films were originally released on the series' official website, one was shown in cinemas with Dreamcatcher, one was shown on MTV, MTV2, MTV3, MTV4, and Syfi, and the others first appeared with the DVD release of all nine shorts shortly after the release of The Matrix Reloaded.

Video games[edit]

On May 15, 2003, the game Enter the Matrix was released in North America concurrently with The Matrix Reloaded. The first of three video games related to the films, it told a story running parallel to The Matrix Reloaded and featured scenes that were shot during the filming of The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.[83]

Two more The Matrix video games were released in 2005. The MMORPG The Matrix Online continued the story beyond The Matrix Revolutions,[84] while The Matrix: Path of Neo allowed players to control Neo in scenes from the film trilogy.[85] The Matrix Online was shut down in 2009.[86]

The Matrix official website also provided several original Adobe Flash-based browser games.[87][88]

Comic books[edit]

The Matrix Comics is a set of comics and short stories based on the series and written and illustrated by figures from the comics industry; one of the comics was written by the Wachowskis and illustrated by the films' concept artist Geof Darrow.[89] The comics and stories were originally presented for free on the Matrix series' website between 1999 and 2003.[90][91] One of them was printed in 1999 to be given away at theaters as a promotional item for The Matrix, but Warner Bros. recalled it due to its mature content.[92] Most of them were later republished by the Wachowskis' Burlyman Entertainment, along with some new stories and updates with color to some of the existing ones,[93] in two printed trade paperback volumes in 2003 and 2004 and a deluxe hardcover twentieth anniversary edition in 2019.[94][95][90][96]

By September 2004, the first printed volume had sold over 60,000 copies.[97]


The Matrix official website provided a free screensaver for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, which simulates the falling "Matrix digital rain" of the films.[98][99] The screensaver was reported to have a password security issue.[100] The "Matrix digital rain" also inspired the creation of many unofficial screensavers.[101]



  • The Art of the Matrix by various (Newmarket Press, 2000) ISBN 978-1557044051
  • The Matrix Shooting Script by the Wachowskis (with introduction by William Gibson) (Newmarket Press, 2001) ISBN 978-1557044907
  • The Matrix Comics, Vol. 1 by various (Burlyman Entertainment, 2003) ISBN 1-932700-00-5
  • The Matrix Comics, Vol. 2 by various (Burlyman Entertainment, 2004) ISBN 1-932700-09-9
  • Enter the Matrix: Official Strategy Guide by Doug Walsh (BradyGames, 2003) ISBN 978-0744002713
  • The Matrix Online: Prima Official Game Guide (Prima Games, 2005) ISBN 978-0761549437
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo: Official Strategy Guide (BradyGames, 2005) ISBN 978-0744006582
  • The Matrix Comics: 20th Anniversary Edition by various (Burlyman Entertainment, 2019) ISBN 978-1932700572


See also[edit]


  1. ^ The films' credits listed "The Wachowski Brothers" as the writers and directors.


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