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<I>Matrix</I> Takes Next Step in Entertainment Evolution

9 Feb, 2003 By: Kurt Indvik

The recent glitzy kick-off event at Warner Bros. Studios to the integrated media event that will be The Matrix this year — in all its permutations — heralds yet another step in the evolution of creatively managed multimedia properties focusing on one entertainment franchise.

What will make The Matrix suite of film, video and video game products so interesting to see will be the impact of their connected world that the creators have crafted.

The Matrix special edition two-disc DVD set, coming out April 29, offers a full load of samples from the upcoming movie The Matrix Reloaded (May 15); the Enter the Matrix video game (also May 15); The Animatrix DVD, featuring nine CG-animated/anime shorts based on “The Matrix” story line (June 3), and three hours of techno music from Matrix properties. A CD soundtrack from The Animatrix is also planned for June 3.

The coordinated effort on the part of Warner Bros. to leverage the talent and content of The Matrix is truly impressive as these products seemingly came to fruition almost simultaneously.

It helps that the studio chose to compress the final two segments of film trilogy — The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions (November) — into one year. That gave the various creative partners in home video, video game and music plenty of material to work with and provided Warner Bros. with a unique opportunity to fuse some of the content together and extend the Matrix experience from one entertainment platform to another.

Thus, you have some story lines and themes from The Animatrix DVD that extend to the movies. You have a significantly greater degree of movie footage and character involvement showing up in the video game. And Warner has developed a strong music component that can stand alone on a CD.

Entertainment companies have been moving down this road during the past several years. Universal managed to stretch the The Fast and the Furious franchise from its initial movie success to hit DVD, to DVD special edition, to a planned video game this year ... and to the next movie in the franchise — 2Fast 2Furious — which comes to theaters in June.

Warner's Harry Potter is an ongoing franchise behemoth of books, movies, videos and games. And, of course, New Line's Lord of the Rings set a new standard, with an extended version DVD that transcended the typical DVD approach and offered a whole new enhanced experience for fans of the trilogy.

The exciting part is that the DVD video medium's multimedia capabilities put it at the center of this evolution.

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