Part of the story of how Resurrections was made is told through a scene in the film itself.
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Warning: A mild spoiler from The Matrix Resurrections is discussed in this article.

The Matrix Resurrections has a lot to say about the idea of nostalgia: what it means, our relationship to it, and how it's the thing fueling Hollywood movies at the moment. More than that, the fourth Matrix film uses nostalgia to address the franchise-ification of itself.

Look no further than a scene between Keanu Reeves' Thomas Anderson and Jonathan Groff's Smith in the beginning of the sequel — which seemed so clearly to be a commentary on why Resurrections was made that, as it turns out, it kind of was.

Neo finds himself back inside the Matrix, a virtual world the A.I. machines of the future project into the minds of humans to keep them sedated in order to harvest their bodies for energy. Going by Thomas once again, Neo believes himself to be an award-winning video game creator and the architect of a popular series called The Matrix.

Thomas has moved on to a passion project called Binary, but he has an uncomfortable conversation with his boss at the Deus Machina game company.

THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS
Jonathan Groff's Smith in 'The Matrix Resurrections'
| Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

"Things have changed, the market's tough. I'm sure you can understand why our beloved parent company Warner Bros. has decided to make a sequel to the trilogy," Groff's Smith tells him. "They informed me they're going to do it with or without us."

Jessica Henwick, who plays Bugs in the movie, told EW this was part of a sequence in Resurrections inspired by real conversations the director, Lana Wachowski, had with executives over the years.

"Lana has had so many offers to make more Matrix films, which you can tell if you've seen [Resurrections]," Henwick said. "There's the whole homage sequence to the pressure of the great above telling her to make a sequel. And those are all based on real conversations that she's had."

Producer James McTeigue addressed the situation more directly in an interview with Collider. He confirmed, "Yeah, look, there was versions out there, but they hadn't landed on the right version. So, when Lana eventually came back around and said, 'I'm interested in making another movie,' of course they went with the filmmaker who was the genesis of The Matrix."

Some of this story we already know. At a panel for Germany's Berlin International Literature Festival in September, Wachowski explained that she and her filmmaking sister, Lilly, had many offers from Warner Bros. over the years to make more movies, ever since the original trilogy ended with 2003's The Matrix Revolutions.

Lilly had also moved onto other things. She had mentioned in a 2020 interview with The Hollywood Reporter that interference by "boards and marketers" on the filmmaking pushed her to a "breaking point." After her gender reassignment surgery, she also felt an exhaustion from working on films Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending, followed by Sense8 season 1 back to back.

"Coming out and just being completely exhausted, my world was like, falling apart to some extent even while I was like, you know, cracking out of my egg," she said during an August appearance on the Television Critics Association Summer Tour to support her Showtime series Work in Progress. "So, I needed this time away from this industry. I needed to reconnect with myself as an artist and I did that by going back to school and painting and stuff."

Lilly Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Lilly Wachowski and Lana Wachowski
| Credit: Amy Sussman/Getty Images; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

By 2017, screenwriter Zak Penn (X-Men: The Last Stand, The Avengers) had confirmed reports that he was working on treatments for other Matrix projects.

"Do I want to see more stories set in the universe of The Matrix? Yes. Because it's a brilliant idea that generates great stories," he tweeted at the time. "Look at what people are doing with X-Men universe. Between Logan and Legion and Deadpool, does anyone want them to stop? Not me."

What changed for Lana was the loss of her parents and a close friend in close proximity. She said at that Berlin panel, "I couldn't have my mom and dad… yet suddenly I had Neo and Trinity, arguably the two most important characters in my life. It was immediately comforting to have these two characters alive again, and it's super-simple."

According to McTeigue, it's normal for a studio to look at expanding "a franchise with that much potential money-making capability."

"It's in the same way that the Marvel universe repeats and turns in on itself, or you have Spider-Man, or you have Iron Man, or Thor," he told Collider. "There's always a potential to update those movies just because of the possibility of making the money and telling new stories. I shouldn't say it's just a purely fiscal thought."

As for Lana, well, she has no plans to make more Matrix sequels after Resurrections. She laughed at the thought when presented the question by a reporter at the San Francisco premiere of the movie. "My producers are over there. No!" she said.

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