25 Years Ago, The Matrix Broke The Box Office (And Cinema Was Never The Same)



Before diving in, I should note that the story of this movie can (and has) filled multiple books. So I can only truly scratch the surface here with a couple thousand words, but we’re going to try and paint a picture of this movie’s truly unlikely eventual destination. I.E., becoming one of the biggest commercial hits of the ’90s while also ranking as one of the most influential movies ever made.

Legendary producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura bought the rights to “The Matrix” script years before it was made. He became a champion for the project the whole way through. Shortly after the minor success of Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s “Bound,” they set about trying to convince Warner Bros. to make the film. They had precisely one film under their belt as well as the script for “Assassins,” which they sold but was then heavily rewritten. In short, it was going to be a tough sell.

As explained in a 2019 piece by Wired, the duo enlisted comics artist Geof Darrow to design much of the foreboding technology in the film, as well as Steve Skroce, who drew nearly 600 detailed shot-by-shot storyboards. The problem for WB is that nothing existed to compare this to. It was wholly original. As di Bonaventura explained in that 2019 piece, the time was ripe for something fresh, as he saw it:

“Sequels were faltering. And a lot of genres were dying: action-comedy movies, buddy-cop movies. We knew we needed to do something different.”

The Wachowskis ended up pitching the head of the studio and, to put it lightly, their pitch for “The Matrix” was pretty darn unique. Di Bonaventura recalled that “nobody understood it” in the 2019 book “Best. Movie. Year. Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen.” He also explained how, exactly, they went about pitching the film.

“It was an unusual show. One of the Wachowskis was explaining the story, and the other was making sound effect noises.”



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