L.A. Judge Freezes Assets of 'Matrix' Director
Thu May 22,10:58 PM ET
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "The Matrix Reloaded" may be one of the biggest movie hits of the year, but co-director Larry Wachowski will need more than bullet-time martial arts to collect his full paycheck for the film.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has frozen Wachowski's business assets in a bitter divorce fight between the reclusive filmmaker and his estranged wife, Thea Bloom, who claimed he was concealing funds from her, according to newly disclosed court documents.
Previously confidential letters filed in court by Bloom's lawyer to support her request for a restraining order also offered a rare public glimpse at the intricacies of powerhouse Hollywood deals and the stratospheric fees commanded by big-name movie-making talents.
The documents came to light when they were posted this week on The Smoking Gun, a popular Web site devoted to finding legal skeletons in celebrity closets.
One letter from Wachowski's lawyer, Peter Grossman, reveals the filmmaker and his partner, brother Andy, earned upfront payments totaling $16 million in their deals with Warner Bros. to jointly write and direct "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions."
They stand to make millions more through separate licensing deals for video and online games based on the two sequels to the original "Matrix" movie, the documents showed.
For example, the Wachowskis collectively received $2.25 million as an advance against royalties of 14 percent of net sales exceeding 2.5 million units for the Infogames title "Enter the Matrix," according to a letter from Grossman.
Daily Variety reported that 4 million units, retailing at $50 each, were shipped May 14.
In addition, the brothers originally were entitled to 5 percent of gross revenues from the two "Matrix" sequels once a box office threshold of $225 million was reached. But a letter from Bloom's lawyer, Dena Kleeman, revealed that because the films went over budget, the Wachowskis could be penalized by having their profit participation lowered to 2.5 percent of revenues after the films gross $350 million.
It was not clear how much in upfront payments collected by the brothers' production company was received by Larry Wachowski personally before the judge barred "disbursements of any kind" to the filmmaker.
In a declaration accompanying her request for the restraining order, Bloom said she and Wachowski mutually agreed to separate last July, after nearly nine years of marriage. Bloom said she learned that "Larry has received large payments (for the "Matrix" films) that I never saw deposited in our joint accounts."
"Larry has been extremely dishonest with me in our personal life, and I believe he is hiding information from me regarding our financial affairs," she said in the court papers.
The court order freezing Wachowski's assets was filed last Wednesday, the day before "The Matrix" grossed $42.5 million at the U.S. box office in its first full day in theaters. The movie has gone on to generate ticket sales totaling $157.6 million in its first seven days of domestic release, setting a new record for the biggest opening week ever. Last year's "Spider-Man" was the previous record holder, grossing $151.6 million its first week.
The third film in the franchise, "The Matrix Revolutions," is due out later this year. The two brothers jointly wrote, directed and produced all three films.
Both Kleeman and Warner Bros., a unit of AOL Time Warner Inc. declined comment. Bloom was not immediately available for comment.
Funny thing is, I just got finished reading a recent movie magazine article on the Wachowski brothers. It went on and on about how happy both of their marriages were, etc.
Money changes everything.
HONEY BADGER DON'T CARE