At one point they ruled Hollywood. They may again one day, but for now filmmakers the Wachowskis — that is, Lana and Lilly, creators of The Matrix — are closing the Chicago production office they’ve owned since 2007. The reason? They have simply no productions in the pipeline.
This story comes from Crain’s Chicago Business, which was found by The Film Stage. The Wachowskis, whose most recent project was the acclaimed, innovative, but cancelled Netflix series Sense8, put the building up for sale at around $5 million — “way below” what they invested in it.
When they bought it over a decade ago, the filmmaker sisters converted the 21,500 square-foot building into their “dream space”: a sprawling work home with workspace for 45 people, a 36-person theater, a half-court indoor basketball gym, a space for large catering events, and multiple conference rooms. They also made it very green: There were solar panels, countertops and flooring made of recycled materials, even plugs for electric cars.
There were also displays for props and the four Oscars won by the first Matrix film.
That film, released in 1999, didn’t only make the two accomplished low-budget filmmakers (thanks to 1996’s LGBTQ neo-noir Bound) into instant Hollywood royalty. It also took mainstream cinema next-level. It boasted cutting-edge special effects, including the “bullet-time” effect, in which they could create the illusion of the camera moving in space during while time was dramatically slowed down. It also tapped into pre-millennial tension, asking if the modern world may actually live in a simulation.
The two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, both arrived in 2003, and though they made gobs of money, they were considered underperformers relative to the original sensation. Subsequent attempts to reclaim the zeitgeist, from 2008’s F/X-heavy Speed Racer to the absurdly ambitious time-jumping Cloud Atlas to the space opera Jupiter Ascending, all failed at the box office. Sense8 seemed like an unfortunate final nail in the coffin.
And now there’s this. The Wachowskis still have films they hope to one day make: For one, there’s Cobalt Neutral 9, a found footage Iraq War saga. This isn’t the end of the Wachowskis; they may simply move into a smaller space, then plan their next move. In the meantime, they’ll be having little to do with that threatened Matrix reboot, which even considering the news may be for the best.