Did Hollywood Miss the Lessons from 'The Matrix'?

"The Matrix" just turned 20 years old. It's responsible for the modern look and feel of lots of movies, but did Hollywood learn the wrong lessons? 

It's hard to believe that the Wachowskis were little known filmmakers in 1999, poised to change the world with their original screenplay idea. Since the onset of the movie, Hollywood has produced lots of imitators. And while the CGI revolution in this movie influenced all media, from advertising to video games, it appears if Hollywood failed to heed some of the best lessons The Matrix had to offer. 

The Matrix is a mid-budget science fiction drama that came from an original idea. It was a screenplay that had two indie directors attached and a lot of revolutionary ideas. It's hard to fathom given the ideas from intellectual property and the public domain that dominate screens today, but there was a time when studios tried to build their own franchises. 

Even if studios didn't take that away, it seems unfathomable that they couldn't see how the Matrix mined some of the best anime created and spun it into accessible tales for an American audience. 

Can you name the Anime properties that influenced The Matrix? Credit: Amino

If Hollywood was smart, it would look back at how this movie hit and start thinking about how to generate internal IP instead of paying big bucks to make big swings. 

Another idea The Matrix put forward that seems unheeded until lately is a diverse and interesting cast. Sure, the Matrix stars Keanu, but did you know it was originally going to be Will Smith and at one point even Sandra Bullock? While the movie didn't make the leap with the lead, it did put forward a very progressive and interesting world that expanded with its sequels. 

Finally, we all know bullet-time was all the rage in 1999 and beyond, but what The Matrix did so well was action cinematography. Nowadays, many action movies are edited quickly to hide pulled punches and fake fighting. But The Matrix stayed wide, slowed shots down when they mattered and allowed actors to fight in long takes that felt like a dance. 

Check out this video from The Hollywood Reporter for more! 

What's next? Write a better character bio

If everyone has a story to tell, then every character in those stories needs to be made up of stories of their own, so the tale comes across as real and engaging. The more detail you give your character, the more the audience can identify with them and the easier it'll be for your project to find its way to the big or small screen. To get your characters in shape, I recommend writing a character bio for them. 

Click the link and dive in!      

Your Comment


Actually they stole bullet time and a lot of other shots from Dragonball Z which originally aired aired in Japan from 89-96. I mean they stole a lot of stuff. But Bullet time is from one of the episodes that first aired in 92. The reloaded actually stole an entire scene (the freeway chase) from a Dragonball Z episode. It is almost shot for shot a remake of it. The brothers owned a comic book store and sold Dragonball Z videos from Japan before it started showing after the Matrix came out on Cartoon Network. They watched the series and didn't realize that it was going to stat showing in the US and thought they could get away with it. In fact they stole so much that they could never make a proper Dragonball Z movie as audiences would think they were stealing stuff from the Matrix series when it was the other way around.

April 1, 2019 at 12:22PM, Edited April 1, 12:25PM


I believe bullet time was developed by Michel Gondry in a Rolling Stones video.

April 2, 2019 at 9:41AM

Javier Diez

I think Hollywood should take about 50% of the blame, and movie-goers the other 50. If audiences were paying hand over fist to see original sci fi movies, then im sure studios would jump on board.
It’s very unfortunate.

April 1, 2019 at 12:34PM


I think the strongest influence of the Matrix is the shift of action oriented films being centered around plot devices (there's a bomb on a bus), to more existential questions. Modern superhero movies are its legacy. Especially in the origin stories, the plot is generally centred around the question, "What am I?"... Answer...I'm an Iron Man, I'm a Bat-Man, I'm a Spider-Man...a Wonder Woman. In the Matrix it was, "What is reality?"

April 1, 2019 at 8:00PM, Edited April 1, 8:01PM


Which process is more ideal as a writer - the process of forming character bio first
- writing the script then character bio
And why?

April 3, 2019 at 5:08AM

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April 3, 2019 at 8:26AM