‘The Matrix Resurrections’ revives a franchise in fashion | Existence

Coincidental or deliberate, modern blockbusters never really seem to end. They can end for years sometimes, of course, but there’s always that man-made underpinning of the end, the feeling that “To be continue” is faintly watermarked somewhere on the screen, waiting for the right time.

That wasn’t the case with The Matrix trilogy when it hit the market in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Filmmakers Lana and Lilly Wachowski envisioned a clear beginning, middle, and ending for their sci-fi cyberpunk saga, and they got it, changing the blockbuster action scene in the process. Like many revivals of popular action franchises in the years to come, “The Matrix” felt like an untouchable oeuvre for a long time, at least.

Then Lana Wachowski revealed that she had come up with another story on the series, one that would bring stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss back into the franchise and kind of tell the story of how their characters were revived. The film, titled “The Matrix Resurrections,” could have been a number of things, from a gentle restart to a straightforward continuation of the story to a full payoff for the nostalgia the original film still conjures up.

What we got instead of all of these things is a quirky, intriguing mix of the three, in which Wachowski reckons with her own cinematic legacy, unwrapping years of blockbuster trademarks, and setting a new tone for the franchise that is both surprising and inviting .

“Resurrections” takes Thomas Anderson (Reeves) in a seemingly completely different life than the one he led in the original trilogy. He is a game designer and a very successful one who has built his career on a trilogy of games that seems almost literally drawn from the original “Matrix” film trilogy, as if he had taken his memories of those days and woven them into fiction . Just Thomas doesn’t remember the old days when he was a master hacker and a messianic figure named Neo, or when he does, the memories are deeply repressed things that he can write off as hallucinations. On the cusp of a restart of his game trilogy, however, Thomas begins to ask new questions, questions supported by the woman he sees every day at the local cafe who looks exactly like the heroine of the game, Trinity (Moss). , some hesitant responses from his therapist (Neil Patrick Harris) and a woman who calls herself Bugs (Jessica Henwick) who seems to think of him as a legend in disguise. But did it all really happen or is Thomas just going nuts again?

Saying more about the plot would destroy the intricate structure of Wachowski’s script, which this time was co-written with David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon, but believe me when I tell you that whatever goes on is worthy of being wise and feels good to look at. It’s a story full of recalls to the original trilogy, echoes of it, the sense of history not exactly repeating itself, but at least rhyming. All of this results in a very well structured first act, but it also turns out to be a smoke screen for what is really going on. As the film runs at full speed, it becomes clear that Wachowski is less interested in rhyming with the past than in growing beyond it, and this is where “Resurrections” comes into its own as an impressive work.

Although the visuals of the film are a bit missing in some places and until a few key moments towards the end the wow factor of the original trilogy is never quite filled, what really works about “The Matrix Resurrections” is that everyone involved is dedicated to storytelling really new story, not just a reworking of the old one. The characters are familiar, of course, but Moss, Reeves, Henwick and Henwick’s newcomer Yahya Abdul-Mateen II aren’t just here to repeat what came before. There’s a sense of daring that runs through the entire film, from the performances to the story structure, a sense that anyone who gets involved can get away with something. It’s mischievous, funny, exciting and emotionally gripping at the same time and sets it apart from almost any other blockbuster in its class. “The Matrix Resurrections” is a sequel that only shows up every now and then, a movie like “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in terms of its boldness and pure spirit. Not everyone will like it, but the sheer boldness is enough to make a must-see movie.

James Bond is a precious film franchise. This is how the 007s stack up

Daniel Craig plays James Bond in No Time To Die.

Source: MGM

When the first James Bond film “Dr. No” was released in 1962, a ticket cost just 70 cents.

Almost 60 years later, the average ticket price is around $ 9 and the dashing 007 makes its 25th big screen appearance.

Based on the works of Ian Fleming, James Bond has been and has been a fixture in the cinema for decades one of the top-selling film franchises in film history.

On Friday, the 25th Bond film “No Time to Die” came in theaters in the UK prior to its domestic release on October 8th.

The last 24 films have grossed more than $ 6.89 billion worldwide and played seven different actors – Sean Connery, David Niven, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.

“No Time to Die” marks Craig’s fifth and final round as a legendary British spy. With Craig as the star, the James Bond franchise had its best theatrical release in history and, according to Comscore, grossed almost 3.2 billion US dollars worldwide between 2006 “Casino Royale” and 2015 “Specter”.

In fact, “Skyfall” was the first James Bond film from 2012 to top a billion dollars worldwide.

Of course, ticket prices are much higher these days and there are many more entertainment options for consumers to spend their money on, making receipts from the 1960s look very different from today’s numbers. but Cash experts do not adjust to inflation because there are many

During Connery’s time as Bond, the franchise grossed an average of around $ 100 million at box offices around the world. At the time, movie tickets were less than $ 2 and one James Bond movie was released annually.

After Lazenby’s solo run as 007 and Connery’s reprisals, Roger Moore took on the role for seven films and grossed an average of $ 120 million at the box office between 1973 and 1985. Back then, tickets were around $ 2.50 each.

Dalton took on two films and achieved similar results at a time when tickets were selling for just under $ 4.

It wasn’t until the audience had an eight-year gap between Dalton’s “License to Kill” and Brosnan’s debut in “Goldeneye” that the James Bond franchise saw a massive spike in box office receipts.

1997’s “Goldeneye” became the top-grossing James Bond film, with tickets selling $ 356 million worldwide. In four films, Brosnan’s Bond grossed an average of $ 372 million per frame at the box office and helped revitalize the brand.

Then came Craig. “Casino Royale” updated the 007 character and was a more polished and bolder incarnation of the iconic hero. The film grossed nearly $ 600 million during its 2006 theatrical life.

It is unclear how “No Time to Die” of 2021 will ultimately fare at box offices around the world compared to its predecessors. The film is released at a turbulent time in the cinema business. The coronavirus pandemic paralyzed the industry for months and ticket sales have yet to recover.

However, the advance sale of tickets at home and abroad has given cinema analysts hope for solid cinema operations. Mainly because “No Time to Die” will have an exclusive theatrical release.

Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal and CNBC. Universal releases “No Time To Die” internationally, while MGM is responsible for national release

McDonald’s minimal wage increase and the quick meals franchise future

Employees work at the counter of a McDonald’s restaurant in the company’s new corporate headquarters on June 4, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.

Scott Olson | Getty Images News | Getty Images

For Tom Locke, his turning point in employee wages came back in March during a conversation with a tired store manager, Heidi, in Coventry Township outside Akron, Ohio.

Beginning of the week that MC Donalds The location she ran for his family business, TomTreyCo, had a record-breaking $ 18,000 in sales in a single day, but when he spoke to her at a booth, Locke found that despite her decades of dedication to his business, there was a staff shortage at the end of the Covid-19 pandemic have really taken their toll.

She described working a 12-hour shift, sleeping in her car for three hours instead of driving home for half an hour, followed by another full day on her feet. “I could see the stress on Heidi’s face,” Locke recently recalled. So he decided to make a change to the 45 McDonald’s locations that are part of his franchise business in cities in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and northeast Ohio – he raised workers’ wages.

The youngest employees would make at least $ 13 an hour, and far more than what other local competitors offer for managers who would move up to $ 20 an hour.

“We were in a pretty strong financial position,” said Locke of the April decision, following consultation with his executive team and a thorough review of the models to study the cost and margin implications. “I felt if at any point we could do this to raise the salaries of all of our employees, it would be now.” he said.

Fast food payment under pressure

Fast food wage levels have been scrutinized over the past decade with the help of work-friendly policymakers and well-organized stakeholders like Fight for 15, who advocate a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour.

McDonald’s is perhaps more at the center of this criticism and controversy than any other brand, although its franchise model means that the vast majority of restaurant locations are actually operated by independent franchisees like Locke’s TomTreyCo, rather than the franchisor – McDonald’s itself. But thanks to the deeply intertwined relationship between the franchisor and franchisee, a decision to increase wages on either side of the franchise equation can have complex implications.

In May, just months after other heated disputes with franchisees over study programs and the payment of technology fees, McDonald’s announced that workers at McDonald’s 650 company-owned locations will receive an average pay increase of 10% by the end of June – entry-level employees will ever Earn $ 11-17 an hour by location, and Shift Supervisors will make $ 15-20 an hour. The company says the average wage for employees in in-house restaurants will be $ 15 an hour through 2024.

While the wage increases will only take effect in the locations that McDonald’s owns and operates, the company encouraged franchisees who run the roughly 13,000 other restaurants to do the same for their roughly 800,000 employees, causing anger and dismay among some franchise owners. The fast food giant sells 95% of its US restaurants.

What McDonald’s boss says about wages

McDonald’s is one of the restaurant chains emerging from the pandemic in a strong financial position, much like Chipotle did recently increased wages – and in this case the menu prices by 4%. And it has tried to financially support independent restaurant operators.

In one current interview at the CNBC Evolve Global Summitsaid Chris Kempczinski, McDonald’s CEO, the company’s decision to pump around $ 1 billion in liquidity into its system earlier this year after the worst of the pandemic ended – and in addition to several years of US balance sheet growth Part of an effort to turn the franchisee mindset away from worrying, “Will I be able to pay my mortgage or loan due this month? … be much more aggressive really.”

While not wanting to comment on an increased federal minimum wage, McDonald’s CEO said, “There’s no doubt that $ 7.25 is not what you should or have to pay to be competitive in the market today. … wages are rising because the economy is strong. “

Labor experts say McDonald’s move will put pressure on its franchisees.

“This will put a lot of public pressure on franchisees to do the same,” said Laura Padin, a senior labor advocate for the National Employment Law Project. “When this campaign started in 2011 or 2012,” Padin said of “Fight for 15,” a minimum wage of $ 15 was “intended as that kind of ‘pie in heaven’ target.”

The latest announcement from McDonald’s is proof of its effectiveness, Padin said. “The fact that companies are taking this initiative themselves only shows how much the movement has changed the narrative of what an acceptable minimum wage should be,” she said.

Franchise industry is pushing back

The franchise industry has made its position clear – minimum and maximum wages should be set by individual restaurant operators. “Franchisees are best placed to make wage decisions in their local communities,” said Matt Hauer, senior vice president of government relations for the International Franchise Association. He highlighted the cost differences between high-priced city zip codes and more rural locations.

The current focus on wage levels was due to a “union-driven campaign” to achieve certain organizational or political results by persuading the public that the franchise business model is in fact an enterprise model. In the public eye, he says, this is “to make a company like McDonald’s or Dunkin Donuts or Hilton Hotels one company, not a collection of many small companies doing business under a common brand.”

On July 7, 2021, in San Rafael, Calif., A sign reading “Now Hiring” is posted in the driveway of a McDonald’s restaurant.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

McDonald’s corporate view puts franchisees in the crosshairs of a battle that is being fought with massive competitors in a broader, low-wage landscape.

“I think what happens is you see that having a great economy is very helpful in increasing employee wages. And I think a lot of the changes that come from the wage perspective are because companies like McDonald’s have to compete for the best. ” Talent, “Kempczinski said.” If you have Walmart and Amazon, Target … all going to $ 15, that’s certainly a talent pool to compete with. “

How McDonald’s employees feel

Among workers advocating higher wages, a distinction between McDonald’s companies and franchisees can seem semantic.

“We don’t care if we work in a franchise or corporate business or not,” says Cristian Cardona, a 21-year-old who started working at a McDonald’s-operated restaurant in Orlando three years ago. “We all wear McDonald’s uniforms and we all earn a living wage.”

Cardona was first employed at $ 9.25 an hour, just a dollar more than the Florida minimum wage at the time. Then after a year he became a manager and rose to $ 11 before McDonald’s recently raised it to $ 13. “If McDonald’s companies can control how franchisees make and market their Big Macs, I know they can figure out how to pay every single worker a living wage of at least $ 15.” he said.

For Locke, the Ohio franchisee, adopting higher wages was ultimately more of a corporate than a moral choice. “I will be honest with you,” he said in a recent telephone interview. “If it wasn’t for a huge labor shortage, we might not have taken the action.”

We were just a virtual hamster on the hamster wheel: we weren’t going anywhere. The hardest part is hiring, retaining, and training great people.

Tom Locke, McDonald’s franchisee

At the beginning of the year, Locke had reduced his menu choices to improve his margins, but he was still grappling with staffing shortages. Around 250 employees would leave every month and just as many would have to be trained. In the catering industry, sales of over 100% are common.

“We were just a virtual hamster on the hamster wheel, we weren’t going anywhere,” he says. “The hardest part is hiring, retaining and training great people.”

But since his raise, which went ahead regardless of McDonald’s announcement, the following month, retention rates have skyrocketed.

To compensate for the higher costs, he has raised prices slightly, but believes that customers “expected” it, as his team has publicly communicated the higher wages for its workers. “It’s a long-term look at business as opposed to a very short-term look at business,” Locke said. “I think it’s a much better business model.”

This is an approach that shows more consistency than friction between McDonald’s companies and independent owners, and reflects the view of the McDonald’s CEO.

“We’re going to be transparent … We’re going to make absolutely long-term decisions, so let’s not intervene here and now for the short term,” Kempczinski told CNBC.