LOS ANGELES - A co-producer of "The Matrix Resurrections" is suing Warner Bros. alleging breach of contract over the studio's decision to release the movie on a streaming platform at the same time as it hit theatres, a report said Monday.
The suit, filed in Los Angeles, is the latest chapter in a growing battle between those who stand to profit from cinematic releases and Hollywood studios who want to grow their streaming services.
It follows a very public spat between Scarlett Johansson and Disney in which the "Black Widow" star sued for loss of earnings because the film hit Disney+ while it was still in theatres. The two sides later settled out of court.
WarnerMedia, the parent of Warner Bros. released its entire 2021 catalogue on HBO Max, as Hollywood grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic and closed theatres.
The suit by Village Roadshow Entertainment Group alleges the studio moved "The Matrix Resurrections" release date to 2021 from its originally scheduled 2022 to help drive more subscriptions to HBO Max, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"WB's sole purpose in moving the release date of 'The Matrix Resurrections' forward was to create a desperately needed wave of year-end HBO Max premium subscriptions from what it knew would be a blockbuster film," the suit said, according to the Journal.
"Despite knowing full well that it would decimate the film's box office revenue and deprive Village Roadshow of any economic upside that WB and its affiliates would enjoy," the suit said.
"The Matrix Resurrections" is the fourth installment of the original reality-or-simulation Keanu Reeves vehicle.
By early February it had grossed around $37 million at the North American box office.
"The Matrix," by contrast, took $172 million.