Keanu Reeves will resume his wonder-man ways on May 15, 2003, the new, official opening day for the first of two mega-anticipated sequels to 1999's original mind-bending Matrix trip.
The release date, announced by Warner Bros., is one day earlier than expected. Neo-heads previously had next May 16 (and at one time, May 23) programmed into their Palm Pilots.
The exact calendar date for The Matrix Revolutions, the second sequel, remains undetermined. It is expected, however, to be dropped in November of 2003, probably around Thanksgiving--just six months after Reloaded fires.
To hear Warners explain it, moving up Reloaded's opening by 24 hours is the studio's way of doing God's work.
"There's a pent-up demand for the movie, and we want to get it out there as soon as we can," Warners' executive v.p. Jeff Goldstein says in Variety.
Don't begrudge Warners if it wants to make as much from the flick as it can. The business of back-to-back sequels has been a big job. Shooting will span as many as 250 days, from the first footage shot in Oakland in March 2001, to the wrap party expected in Australia this August.
By launching Reloaded on May 15, a Thursday, the movie will have the benefit of an extra day with which to impress moviegoers with its opening "weekend" gross. (For trivia buffs, Variety notes that Reloaded will be the first Thursday release in the history of the studio, which turns 80 next year.)
Reeves returns as Neo, the Chosen One, in Reloaded and Revolutions. Matrix mentors Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne are also back for both films, as is Neo nemesis Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving).
Plot details on the sequels are as hard to crack as the Matrix itself. Fishburne told Entertainment Tonight that Reloaded takes place six months after the first film. Jada Pinkett Smith has said her new character, Niobi, appearing in both Reloaded and Revolutions, is a "female version of [Fisburne's] Morpheus"--"very no bullcrap."
The production looked cursed early on, losing R&B star/actress Aaliyah, who was to play the mysterious Zee, to a plane crash last August and Gloria Foster, the know-it-all Oracle from the original film, to diabetes last October. Foster completed her work on Reloaded shortly before her death. Aaliyah's part was inherited by newcomer Nona Gaye, daughter of Motown legend Marvin and costar of Ali.