It has been 22 years since audiences were first blown away by the mind-bender that was the original Matrix movie. Since then, we have been plugged back into the virtual world two more times, rounding out an immensely popular and successful sci-fi trilogy. Now, fans of the series are welcomed back to the Matrix with Matrix Resurrections, and the opening day is approaching. CELEB takes a look at what to expect from opening weekend, and how we got here through the Matrix. 

Opening Day Approaches

Matrix

Opening day is just 5 days away: December 22 is approaching quickly. So what does opening weekend look like for the first new installment in 18 years for a beloved cult classic like The Matrix? The numbers may surprise you. Box Office Pro predicts that The Matrix Resurrections will only net around $35M to $50M opening weekend, which is actually technically opening week since Christmas takes up next weekend. That’s a staggeringly low opening net for the newest film in such a popular series.

They also predict that the film will only gross around $95M to $135M total, which stands in stark contrast to predictions for Spider-Man: No Way Home which opened today and is predicted to gross $520M to $690M. Spider-Man has an edge up on the competition because it’s a part of the insanely popular Avengers film series, but it’s still somewhat of a surprise given how beloved The Matrix has remained over the past two decades. 

There could be a very simple reason for such a low prediction though: hybrid release. The newest film, directed by Lana Wachowski, is releasing both in theaters and on HBO Max SVOD. This means a good portion of fans will likely opt to stay home and stream the film, whereas hits like Spider-Man are only going to theater first. If we had to guess, the two are comparably popular, but SVOD will definitely skew opening week numbers in favor of Spider-Man

The Matrix Resurrections

Matrix

But what can we expect from the newest Matrix movie once we choose a way to watch? IMDB has this to say about it: “Return to a world of two realities: one, everyday life; the other, what lies behind it. To find out if his reality is a construct, to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more.”

That’s singularly unhelpful, so we dug around for some fan predictions about what the movie has in store. This is all guesswork right now but Geek to Geek Media has really come through for us with some of the favorite fan predictions floating around the internet. Warning: spoilers of the original trilogy lie ahead. But if you haven’t seen them, you have enough time to watch one a day and then recover for a day or two before you see Resurrections, so make your plans accordingly. 

Since Trinity and Neo are dead (really, for real dead) at the end of Matrix: Revolutions, something has to be funky in flavor town. Here are some of the coolest theories right now courtesy of Geek to Geek Media

  • Back to the future: Not the movie, the past. Is Resurrections a prequel? This theory has been floating around since the movie was first whispered about, before there was a title or cast list or anything. Although both Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity) and Keanu Reeves (Neo) have visibly aged since 2003, maybe time works differently in The Matrix. We already know Neo can stop bullets and fly, so what’s a little time travel?
  • The One – or two? One popular fan theory is that Neo isn’t actually the fabled One – it’s Trinity. Some lines in the new film trailers give this theory credence, as Geek to Geek reminds us. In one scene, Neo says, “She believed in me, it’s my turn to believe in her.” And the new trailers also provide us with this gem: “The most important choice in Neo’s life, is not his to make.” Is it a stretch to think this all points at Trinity being the One? Maybe, but since people have entire complicated theories about how Agent Smith is actually the hero – this is a pretty down-the-middle theory. 
  • Ungplug me already! Maybe Neo never left the Matrix? It’s kind of a film staple in sci-fi shows that if someone is trapped in a horrifying nightmare world, at least once they have to “wake up” only to realize that they’re still in the nightmare. We’re all familiar with this approach, so maybe they took the easy road and Neo is still just plugged in. Geek to Geek points out some really fascinating hints throughout the original trilogy where the lines between the “real world” an the Matrix are blurred, so it really could be that simple. 
  • What’s reality, anyway? More theories abound as to whether Morpheus is real, or whether Trinity is – is Neo even real? And maybe the Matrix itself isn’t real. But those are some deep rabbit holes we don’t have the bandwidth to dive into, so you’ll have to go fan theory hunting yourself – or wait until December 22 and see it all come to life on the big or little screen. 

We know that the original Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) isn’t in the new movie, and the actor who plays him is Yahya Abdul-Mateen II who looks significantly younger than Moss, Reeves, and Fishburne these days. So maybe the time travel/prequel theory holds the most water heading into opening day. But in reality – see what we did there? – no one knows for sure until the movie drops. 

The critics who have seen it have been frustratingly vague of course, but here’s what’s been said so far by people given early access to the film:

  • David Erlich: “The Matrix Resurrections, despite (and because of) its infinite goofiness, is the boldest & most vividly personal Hollywood sequel since The Last Jedi. a silly/sincere galaxy brain take on reboot culture that makes peace with how modern blockbusters are now only about themselves.”
  • Emily VanDerWerff: “

    There was a point in the middle of The Matrix Resurrections where I briefly thought it was the best movie ever made, and, like, I haven’t convinced myself it’s NOT?

    I lovvvvvvved it. A lotta people are gonna haaaaaaaate. My favorite kind of movie!!”

  • Erik Davis: “The first act of #TheMatrixResurrections is STELLAR. Smart, funny, weird, self-referential & unexpected. Add to it wildly inventive action sequences, lofty storytelling decisions & a TON of big ideas that will fuel lots of questions. Trust me, multiple viewings will be required.” 

Well, that’s all good news. Critics love nothing more than to trash a sci-fi movie, so we’ve got hope for Resurrections

The Story so Far

Matrix

While we are not-so-patiently waiting, we can take a look back at the story so far. 

All three movies are immensely complex odes to the world of science-fiction and they’re hard to summarize, but here’s a cliffsnotes version:

  • The Matrix (1999): IMDB says, “When a beautiful stranger leads computer hacker Neo to a forbidding underworld, he discovers the shocking truth–the life he knows is the elaborate deception of an evil cyber-intelligence.” The beautiful stranger is of course Trinity, Neo’s eventual lover. In the year 2199, artificial intelligence has taken over the world. There was a war between machine and man, and mankind lost. Since then, the Earth is a post-apocalyptic wasteland full of towers designed to use humans for the one things the machines find us useful for: energy. A life as a human battery means being born into a liquid pod, fitted with access ports, and having your food and waste handled by tubes while you snooze in your artificial womb. Human brains are plugged into an artificial world known as The Matrix to keep them from becoming suspicious and rebelling. In the Matrix, people live as digital avatars, going through a normal, average, looks-like-our-world life. Obviously, this doesn’t last now that Neo has been found. Trinity leads Neo to Morpheus, leader of the human rebellion which has arisen to try to free humanity from their Duracell destiny. Neo has the ability to control the Matrix, leading the rebels to believe he is The One – a human from prophecy who is destined to free mankind. If you’ve never seen the movie you’ve probably still heard Reeves’ puzzled voice as he declares, “I know Kung Fu!” after downloading the skill to his in-Matrix avatar during training.  While Neo learns his skill and begins fighting the good fight, a dogged enemy arises in Agent Smith – an AI program that exists within the Matrix and is trying to hunt Neo down. Neo dodges bullets, learns to fly, stops bullets in the air, and figures out how to deactivate and/or kill the enemy AI programs that hunt him. At the end of the movie, Neo triumphs and frees himself and his friends – but there’s a lot of work left to do. 
  • Matrix: Reloaded (2003): The sequel of The Matrix is described by IMDB: “Freedom fighters Neo, Trinity and Morpheus continue to lead the revolt against the Machine Army, unleashing their arsenal of extraordinary skills and weaponry against the systematic forces of repression and exploitation.” Unfortunately, that’s a pretty comprehensive summary of the second film, which fans often dismiss as not up to par with the first one. In the sequel, viewers see more of the human world that exists beneath the machine world including the aptly-named city Zion, and some of the politics start to reveal themselves. In Reloaded, Neo visits the Source, which is like a Matrix mainframe AI, and learns about his role as The One and the fact that he is the sixth such One. Neo is offered a choice between destroying Zion as his predecessors have to preserve the Matrix, or sacrificing the people plugged into Matrix to save the rebels. Neo decides to make a third path. Once again, Neo wins the day – but overthrowing machine overlords is a three-part act. Meanwhile, Agent Smith was not destroyed in the first movie as we thought and is out making trouble for just about everyone.
  • Matrix: Revolutions (2003): Another movie that didn’t quite live up to the grandeur of the first movie, Revolutions sees us back in the underworld trying to free humanity. IMDB explains, “The human city of Zion defends itself against the massive invasion of the machines as Neo fights to end the war at another front while also opposing the rogue Agent Smith.” In this movie, the rebels take the fight to the Machine City. In an assault on the machine’s home base, Trinity is ostensibly killed. Some stunning truths are revealed to Neo about his connection to Agent Smith, who clones himself into Neo and ultimately kills him – but the end result is that the machines withdraw and Zion celebrates.

There’s an AI robot child involved, an Oracle who’s been driving the story from the beginning, and the Architect who sits on high at the Source watching it all happen. If you haven’t seen the trilogy, it’s hard to explain – but you should definitely go watch before Resurrections hits theaters. With the hero couple dead and the original Morpheus out – what does the new movie have in store? We’ll all find out in T-minus four days and a handful of hours.