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How Much Have the Wachowskis Lost For Warner Brothers Since 'The Matrix' Films?

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | February 9, 2015 |


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The weekend box-office saw two more huge misfires, which you can add to the ever-growing pile of 2015 big-budget flops, including Mortdecai ($19 million worldwide on a $60 million budget), George Lucas’ Strange Magic ($11 million so far), and Blackhat ($16 million worldwide on a $70 million budget). And I’m not just talking about Jeff Bridges’ Seventh Son, either, which grossed only $7 million against a reported $95 million budget.

I’m talking about Jupiter Ascending, of course, another in a string of massive box-office flops for Lana and Andy Wachowski. Granted, Jupiter Ascending amassed $19 million, or more than double Seventh Son, but its budget of $175 million was also substantially higher. In fact, Ascending was supposed to be a July release, but it was postponed on account of it sucking. And my God, did it suck.

Given the Wachowski’s track record, one has to wonder why Warner Brothers would even pony up another $175 million for one of their films, especially one as shrouded in secrecy as Jupiter Ascending. I wonder, too, how nervous Netflix is about the huge investment they made in the Wachowski’s Sense8 series.

Are the Wachowskis broken? I don’t know. After all, studios keep throwing money at Johnny Depp to make bombs, so they may continue to do the same for the Wachowskis, but I’m not so sure that Warner Brothers will want to continue their partnership with the directing duo considering the amount of money they lost on the last three films.

How much money did they lose? It’s difficult to say for certain, but let’s try and estimate, shall we? Let’s assume — because we don’t have the DVD/streaming numbers or knowledge of the marketing budgets behind the three films — that the post-theater revenue essentially offsets the marketing (which is probably generous to the Wachowskis since the marketing budgets are probably in the $50 to $60 million range). Let’s also assume that Warner Brothers takes home half of the box-office receipts (which is fairly standard).

With that in mind, let’s do some quick math:

Jupiter Ascending has made $19 million at the box office, and that’s generously projected out over the course of its run to be around $55 million. Let’s also generously double that for a worldwide box office of $110 million (it’s worldwide box-office of $31 million so far is substantially less than half, but for the sake of this exercise, go with it).

So, a $110 million projected box office, means Warner Brothers takes home $55 million on a $175 million budget, for a loss of $120 million.

Cloud Atlas made $130 million worldwide, which means Warner Brothers took home about $65 million. The budget on that film was reportedly $102 million, which means Warner had an estimated $37 million write-down.

Finally, Speed Racer, the Wachowskis first film after The Matrix movies made $93 million worldwide, which means Warner took home about $47 million on a $120 million budget, for a loss of $73 million.

So, in total, the Wachowskis have lost Warner Brothers a generously estimated $230 million since The Matrix trilogy.

That sounds terrible, but then again, Disney had a $190 million write down for the Lone Ranger alone, which puts that $230 million loss in some perspective. I would not, however, count on any studio handing out $100+ million budgets to the Wachowskis again anytime soon unless they figure out how to bring Keanu back for a fourth Matrix installment.


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