Yesterday, Warner Brothers announced a movie slate that includes The Matrix 4, now dated for May 21, 2021. (They also slated Ezra Miller’s long-gestating The Flash for July 1, 2022, which…call me when that movie is actually in production.) This is very interesting as John Wick 4 is also slated for May 21, 2021. Therefore, May 21, 2021 has been dubbed “Keanu Day”, since Keanu Reeves will be returning in The Matrix 4, and of course, starring in John Wick 4. It’s really something, two projects which define one career opening on the same day. It’s also not going to happen, so maybe hold off on planning your Keanu Day celebrations.
One reason Keanu Day won’t end up happening is that it makes no sense to open two of the same movies on the same day. But Sarah, you say, The Matrix and John Wick aren’t the same movie! They’re both action blockbusters starring Keanu Reeves, in which he plays a stoic and legendary warrior engaged in elaborate fight sequences, and both will be in wide release. They are the same movie, from a demographic standpoint. They are appealing to the same audience. It is financial suicide for one of them to risk cannibalizing their audience like this.
This is why major superhero movies don’t open on the same day (and why it is dangerous to even release them within the same four-week period). Warner Brothers and Lionsgate, which distributes the John Wick movies, will realize this is suicide, and one of them will back down. We’ve already lived this with Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman. Back in 2016, Warner Brothers moved BvS up to open on the same date as Civil War. I said it then and I’ll say it now—this is just a publicity stunt. And it works! Here were are, talking about The Matrix 4. And not for nothing, both the Superhero Apocalypse of 2016 and Keanu Day were engineered by the same studio. It’s almost like Warners considers this kind of date f-ckery a marketing stunt, or something.
At this point, John Wick has first priority among Keanu’s (many) projects, so I bet it will be Warners who once again changes the date and ends up shifting The Matrix 4 to another frame in 2021. If they’re confident in it, it will be later summer or maybe the holidays where it could take on Avatar 2. If they’re not confident in it, they’ll do what they did with BvS and move it back to spring. Either way, The Matrix 4 won’t open on the same day as John Wick 4. (We haven’t even gotten into how Keanu could not physically promote both movies at the same time, and how there are usually contractual clauses for major movies that prevent stars doing exactly that, setting up bumpers where they can’t work on behalf of any other project.) So, sorry to piss in everyone’s Cornflakes, but Keanu Day 2021 won’t happen. Although, any day can be Keanu Day if you try hard enough.