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Matrix creates a revolution at box office
- Film grosses $204-m worldwide

The final instalment in the sci-fi Matrix movie trilogy topped the North American box office and grossed a revolutionary $204 million worldwide through its first weekend, making it the biggest global film opening of all time, Warner Bros. studio reported yesterday.

Rolling out on a record 18,000 screens in the US, Canada and 94 other countries, The Matrix Revolutions surpassed the banner debut of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, which raked in roughly $188 million worldwide in its first five days of release in December 2002.

Despite a drubbing from critics, the robust commercial start to the latest special effects-driven action thriller starring Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne seemed to ensure the trilogy’s place as one of the most successful franchises in cinematic history.

The first two films — 1999’s The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded, which opened in May of this year — have already grossed nearly $1.2 billion combined in worldwide ticket sales. The franchise has made hundreds of millions more in video and DVD distribution and video game sales.

The popularity of the first two films and Warner’s heavy promotional campaign clearly paid off for the third installment, as did the unprecedented scope of its launch. Studio brass said Revolutions played to sold-out audiences in India, scored record ticket sales in Russia and became the first Western movie to open simultaneously in the US and China.

“It would be hard to have another movie open like this because you had such awareness and so much visibility prior to the movie opening,” Warner executive Joel Silver said. But unlike other lucrative film brands, The Matrix has run its course. Producers of Revolutions, which cost $300 million to make, insist it is the end of the saga. Matrix Reloaded still stands as the biggest domestic debut ever for an R-rated film — grossing nearly $92 million during its first weekend — and ranks as the second-biggest movie opening of all time behind last year’s Spider-Man debut, at $115 million.

Coming just six months later, Revolutions delivered a less powerful punch to the homeland box office than Reloaded but was still potent enough to easily subdue the holiday comedy Elf, starring Will Ferrell as an oversized Santa’s helper. In US and Canadian theatres, Revolutions generated an estimated $50.2 million for the Friday-to-Sunday period, bringing the domestic tally since its release on Wednesday to nearly $85.5 million, said Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc.

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