Could The Matrix 4 start filming again by July? It looks like Warner Bros. has hope for the paused production of their highly-anticipated sequel to the groundbreaking sci-fi trilogy. Per Variety, the cast members have signed 8-week extensions that will keep the actors on hold for the production until at least July 6.
The sequel sees Lana Wachowski returning to write and direct, and Warner Bros. kicked off filming back in February in San Francisco before packing up for a Berlin shoot in mid-March. But production shutdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic meant that the shoot was halted before cameras got rolling, leaving the cast and filmmakers in a holding pattern (along with the rest of the industry) for the time being.
Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are confirmed to return for The Matrix 4, alongside an ensemble cast that includes Jada Pinkett Smith and newcomers Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Neil Patrick Harris, Jonathan Groff, Toby Onwumere, and Brian J. Smith. Wachowski’s sequel is also getting some of the key crew back together. When we recently caught up with David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, the stunt and filmmaking duo teased their involvement in the film, saying they worked on scenes in San Francisco before the shutdown.
While the 8-week extension certainly buys Warner Bros. some time, it’s far from a sure thing that film production will be back in swing by July, especially an operation on the scale of something as massive and ambitious as a Matrix film. While states are beginning to open up and lift stay-at-home orders, it remains to be seen when public health officials around the world will deem film productions safe, and even after that, there are the practical matters of running a set safely.
In a recent report, THR detailed the discussions happening around Hollywood about the potential for reopening production, and while optimism seems to be on the rise, the consensus seems to be that the industry has to develop an entirely new set of safety protocols with the prediction that smaller productions with less cast and crew will resume first. Likewise, on-location productions will take longer to resume since it’s much easier to control the environment inside a studio. A recent L.A. Times report put a heavy emphasis on the importance of testing as productions resume, yet another tricky strategic hurdle to navigate as industries and governments from around the world struggle to get the necessary testing components at the same time.
It’s a lot to sort through and it’s unprecedented territory, so it will be a fascinating moment in cinema history as we watch how the studios and filmmakers navigate towards a new era of movie-making. Other high-profile productions that are currently on pause include Warner Bros.’ The Batman and Marvel’s Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The Matrix 4 is currently scheduled for a May 21, 2021 release date. But as with filming, it’s definitely TBD if they can make that deadline, especially considering how many visual effects and hours of post-production go into a Matrix movie.