Warner Bros. is plugging back into The Matrix.
The studio is in the early stages of development on a reboot of the 1999 sci-fi movie, despite the fact that few fans have been clamoring for one since The Matrix Revolutions hit theaters in 2003. Zak Penn (Ready Player One) is in talks to write, and Michael B. Jordan is reportedly being eyed for the lead role, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Warner Bros. did not immediately confirm the news to Mashable.
Two people who aren’t involved at this point, however, are Lana and Lilly Wachowski, the writers and directors of the original trilogy. And given that star Keanu Reeves recently told press he’d only return if the Wachowskis did, you can probably count him out as well.
Nor is it clear whether original producer Joel Silver will return. THR, which broke the news, said Warner Bros. is wary of getting back into business with Silver, in part because he has a chilly relationship with the Wachowskis and the studio is still hoping to get their blessing for the new film (if not their actual day-to-day creative contributions).
In retrospect, it was probably just a matter of time before Warner Bros. tried to dust off and reload The Matrix. The original was downright iconic, borrowing from a wide variety of visual, narrative, and philosophical influences to put its own indelible stamp on the sci-fi and action genres.
(One of the ironies of the live-action Ghost in the Shell adaptation is that it’s been billed as “the next-gen Matrix,” when in fact the original animated Ghost in the Shell was a major inspiration for The Matrix.)
More to the point, it made a pretty penny in the process. The Matrix and its less-loved sequels collectively grossed $1.6 billion worldwide. At a time when studios are rushing to capitalize on any name-brand property they can think of, The Matrix was surely too good to resist.
What exactly Warner Bros. plans to do with The Matrix remains to be seen. The original Matrix trilogy is such a product of its creators’ unique vision that it’s frankly difficult to fathom any version of this property without them.
At least the studio doesn’t seem interested in a straightforward remake — according to THR, Warner Bros. to do what Disney did with Star Wars, straying from the core storyline and characters with spinoffs like Rogue One and the upcoming Han Solo prequel.
Penn has previous experience playing in other people’s sandboxes. He contributed to X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand, as well as The Avengers and The Incredible Hulk, and last wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s Ernest Cline adaptation Ready Player One. He is also known for co-creating Syfy’s Alphas.