Before the release of 1999's The Matrix, directors Laurence and Andrew Wachowski (now Lana and Andrew Wachowski, respectively) were virtually unknown commodities. Their previous -- and first -- film, 1996's Bound, was well-received but made very little money at the box office. After they were tasked with directing and writing a big-budget, high-concept film like The Matrix, some were understandably skeptical. After all, a film about a guy named Neo who bands together with a group of rebels (led by Laurence Fisburne's Morpheus) to fight against the machines and Agent Smith who have enslaved him -- and the vast majority of the human race -- for a over a hundred years in a simulation designed to harvest power from humans to power the machines.
Warner Brothers' investment in The Wachowskis payed off. Upon release, The Matrix was an enormous critical, financial, and cultural success. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes held favorable opinions of the film 88% of the film; audiences approved of the film 85% of the time. Users on movie site IMDb.com gave the film 8.7 out of 10 stars. Its so-called "bullet-time" effects were brand new and revolutionary. As such, it won all four of the Academy Awards it was nominated for, including Best Visual Effects: Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects, and Best Visual Effects. On a budget of $63 million, The Matrix made back $463.5 million at the box office. The Matrix was truly revolutionary; its critical and financial success is very rare for a film of its kind.