'Matrix Reloaded' 'Clones' Thursday Release

by Brandon Gray
July 10, 2002

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones trailblazed a new day to release a movie—Thursday—straying from the Friday or Wednesday norm. Going up against the height of TV's May sweeps, it blasted off with a new weekday record—$30,141,417 at 3,161 venues.

Now the second movie of another trilogy will mimic Clones' release in 2003.

Warner Bros. will unleash The Matrix Reloaded at around 3,200 sites on Thursday, May 15, one day earlier than previously announced, Variety reports. The concurrently shot third installment of the trilogy The Matrix Revolutions will hit theaters later in the year, during the holiday season.

The Matrix Reloaded is the first picture to stake a claim on the weekend preceding Memorial Day, a frame that the last two Star Wars movies have owned. And if their releases are any indication, expect other studios to steer clear of that weekend, other than perhaps the release of a modest romantic comedy.

The first Matrix bowed on Wednesday, March 31, 1999, pulling in $4,803,310 at 2,704 theaters. It went on to dominate the spring box office, ending its run with $171,479,930 (not to mention $286 million overseas). Though that gross comes nowhere near the numbers Star Wars and Spider-Man have posted, The Matrix nonetheless earned a devoted following and became one of the most influential pictures in recent memory. More fans were created on home video—it was the first DVD to sell 1 million copies—and on subsequent TV airings. As the Austin Powers and Terminator franchises have proven, such a pattern can lead to explosive box office for sequels.

Two sci-fi sequels opening in close proximity to each other is not unprecedented. Like the Matrix sequels, the second and third installments of the Back to the Future trilogy were filmed simultaneously. Part II debuted in November 1989 and earned.$118,450,002. Part III opened the following May and lassoed $87,727,583. Each, though, was a far cry from the $210,609,762 gross of the original.

A movie and its sequel being released in the same calendar year has happened before as well. Though not exactly a germane comparison, both Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo grooved into theaters back in 1984. Despite its infamous title, the latter grossed far less than its predecessor, $15,101,131 vs. $38,682,707.

Summer 2003 is shaping up to be a veritable fan favorite frenzy. Among other releases scheduled are X-Men 2 (May 2), The Hulk (June 20) and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (July 2).

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