|The Matrix 4|
First logo for the film
|Directed by||Lana Wachowski|
|Edited by||Alexander Berner|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
The Matrix 4 is an upcoming American science fiction action film and the fourth installment in The Matrix franchise. The film is produced, co-written and directed by Lana Wachowski, who co-directed and co-wrote three of the previous films with her sister Lilly. Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lambert Wilson and Daniel Bernhardt reprise their roles from previous films in the series. The film will be a joint production by Village Roadshow Pictures, Wachowskis Productions and Silver Pictures and is scheduled to be released by Warner Bros. Pictures theatrically on December 22, 2021; it will also stream digitally on HBO Max in the United States for a month beginning on that same date.
Additionally, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Neil Patrick Harris, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Toby Onwumere, Max Riemelt, Eréndira Ibarra, Priyanka Chopra, Andrew Caldwell, Brian J. Smith, Ian Pirie, Lavish and Ellen Hollman have been cast in undisclosed roles.
While making the Matrix films, the Wachowskis told their close collaborators that they, at the time, had no intention of making another film in the series after The Matrix Revolutions. In February 2015, in interviews promoting Jupiter Ascending, Lilly Wachowski called a return to The Matrix a "particularly repelling idea in these times", noting the studios' tendency to green-light sequels, reboots, and adaptations over original material, while Lana Wachowski, addressing rumors about a potential reboot, said they had not heard anything but believed the studio might be looking to replace them.
In March 2017, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Warner Bros. was in early stages of developing a relaunch of the franchise, with Zak Penn in talks to write a treatment, and interest in getting Michael B. Jordan attached to star. Neither of the Wachowskis were involved at that stage, although the studio had hoped for their blessing. The notion of a reboot or remake was denounced by Penn, and ideas for stories set in the already established universe were explored, including, reportedly, a prequel film about a young Morpheus or from a descendant of his. In March 2018, Penn said he was working on a revival of the franchise and teased the possibility of an expanded universe. Penn clarified in October 2019 that he had been working on one of two Matrix projects at Warner Bros., and that his work was separate from the planned film.
The film was officially announced by Warner Bros. on August 20, 2019. Lana Wachowski would return as sole director, with Reeves and Moss confirmed to reprise their roles. The script was written by Wachowski, Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell, who had previously written the series finale of Sense8 together. The Wachowskis also previously directed the film adaptation of Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas. Lilly Wachowski was not involved with the film due to work on the Showtime series Work in Progress, but gave her blessing to those involved to come up with a story even "better than the original." John Toll was hired to serve as cinematographer that same month. Toll had previously acted as cinematographer for the Wachowskis on Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending and Sense8. In October 2019, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II was cast in the film, with some sources speculating he would be playing a young Morpheus, while Neil Patrick Harris was added in an undisclosed role. Jada Pinkett Smith entered negotiations to reprise her role as Niobe, with Jessica Henwick entering negotiations to join in an undisclosed role. Pinkett-Smith and Henwick would be confirmed in December, along with the additions of Jonathan Groff and Toby Onwumere.
In January 2020, Eréndira Ibarra was cast, with Priyanka Chopra entering final negotiations. That same month, Lambert Wilson, who played The Merovingian in the sequels, revealed he was in negotiations to return. Hugo Weaving, who starred in the franchise as Agent Smith, was originally approached to reprise his role, but he had scheduling conflicts with his involvement in Tony Kushner's theatrical adaptation of The Visit, leading Wachowski to conclude that the dates would not work after staying in touch with Weaving for a while. Laurence Fishburne later announced that he was not asked to reprise his role as Morpheus. Chopra and Wilson's castings were confirmed in February, along with the additions of Andrew Caldwell, Brian J. Smith and Ellen Hollman. Joe Pantoliano, who appeared in the original film as Cypher, expressed interest in reprising his role despite his character's death in the first installment and messaged Lana Wachowski about the possibility of bringing him back, but received no response from her.
Under the code name "Project Ice Cream", the film began production in San Francisco on February 4, 2020. Filming also took place at Babelsberg Studio in Germany, and in Chicago. Filming in San Francisco caused irritation amongst citizens and city workers after damage was inflicted to buildings and street lights. As opposed to other productions, no second unit was needed during the action sequences as Wachowski directed all the scenes herself.
On March 16, 2020, production on the film was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On August 16, 2020, Keanu Reeves confirmed filming had resumed in Berlin. In September, it was announced Daniel Bernhardt would be reprising his role as Agent Johnson. Principal photography wrapped on November 11, 2020.
The film was initially set for release on May 21, 2021, which would have premiered alongside John Wick: Chapter 4 also starring Keanu Reeves. However, the film was postponed to April 1, 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On October 5, 2020, the film was moved up to December 22, 2021. The film will also have a simultaneous release on the HBO Max streaming service for one month as part of Warner Bros. Pictures' plans for all of its 2021 films.