King Arthur

Box-Office Meltdown: ‘King Arthur’ Could Lose $150M After Falling on Its Sword

‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’

For a brief shining moment, anxious executives at Warner Bros. were hopeful that director Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword would open to at least $25 million in North America and overperform overseas, where historical action epics can often conquer audiences.

It wasn’t to be. The dark origins tale about the mythical medieval king fell on its sword at the box office over Mother’s Day weekend, earning just $15.4 million domestically — slightly ahead of Sunday’s $14.7 million estimate — and a dismal $29.1 million from its first 51 foreign markets, including bombing in China with $5 million. While the event film has yet to land in other major territories, including the U.K., the forecast is grim.

King Arthur, starring Charlie Hunnam in the titular role, could lose as much as $150 million for partners Warners and Village Roadshow after costing $175 million to make before a major marketing spend, according to box-office experts who say the movie isn’t likely to earn more than $145 million globally (studios only get half back in box-office receipts in the U.S, and even less overseas). RatPac-Dune Entertainment — the film financing entity launched in 2013 by Steve Mnuchin, who is now U.S. Treasury Secretary, James Packer and filmmaker Brett Ratner — also has a stake in the movie.

A Warners disputed that the loss could climb to $150 million for the various partners.

King Arthur is a paint-by-numbers Hollywood disaster — wrong director, wrong cast, wrong script, etc.,” says box-office analyst Jeff Bock. “The whole Game of Thrones-on-steroids direction the studio went with from the get-go just didn’t get anyone psyched to see this.”


Box Office: ‘King Arthur’ Bombs Royally With $5.3M Friday

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Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc. obviously knew this was coming. They’ve tossed around Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword for well over a year, presumably trying to find a release date where it could do the least amount of damage. They knew what they should have known from the get-go, that a King Arthur origin story fronted by a generic non-movie star which (in the marketing) de-emphasized the fantastical elements and highlighted that “this wasn’t your father’s King Arthur” was absolutely doomed. It’s absolutely the kind of film that everyone complains about when they worry that mainstream feature films no longer matter in the popular culture. Just because audiences have heard of a property doesn’t mean they automatically want to see a movie version and/or see that property tossed into the “Hero’s Journey Prequel Origin” box.

So with all that said, absent positive reviews or much in the way of buzz, King Arthur earned just $5.3 million on its opening day, including $1.15m in Thursday previews. That points toward a $14.5m debut weekend, which is horrific for a $175m production that already bombed ($1.5m Friday) in China. There is no silver lining. Warner Bros. needs to stop doing these kinds of films. It didn’t work for Jack the Giant Slayer, it didn’t work for Pan, it almost worked for Legend of Tarzan (which sold itself as a sexually-charged “perils of…

Box Office: ‘King Arthur’ Takes $1.2M, ‘Snatched’ Grabs $650K Thursday

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Holdover ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ is expected to top the domestic box office again this weekend.

Warner Bros.’ King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword earned an estimated $1.2 million in Thursday night previews while Fox’s comedy Snatched grabbed $650,000 from 2,625 locations.

King Arthur, helmed by Guy Ritchie and starring Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law, is projected to debut in the $25 million range domestically after costing Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow $175 million to produce before a major marketing spend.

The story follows Arthur, who had a tough upbringing in the back…

Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur Is Formulaic and Dumb

Charlie Hunnam in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

At several different points in Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, a Merlin stand-in known only as the Mage asks our titular sword-bearer, “Did you see everything you needed to see?” It’s an awkward line of dialogue that sounds more like script notes than Ritchie’s signature babble, a meta-commentary on the plodding, utterly predictable, flashback-oriented origin story the film’s supposedly telling. Did the irreverent hero initially turn down his destiny? Did he go through a transformative trial in some dark netherworld? Did his mom die? Did a whole brothel full of prostitutes die? Did you see everything you need to see?

If these weren’t all checklist items lifted from a water-stained copy of Robert McKee’s Story rescued from a crate outside an East Hollywood bungalow, I’d be impressed with myself for remembering all of them. Because as studiously as the film regurgitates a familiar set of plot points, the desperately ADD editing, the Guy Ritchieness of it all, pushes it into incomprehensibility. This is the kind of stuff people ding directors like Baz Luhrmann for, but Luhrmann’s work, even at its loopiest, has a kind of emotional availability that is completely missing here. At its worst, King Arthur is — there’s no other way to put this — dorky. You are embarrassed for this film, like the kid who showed up to the first day at a new school wearing parachute pants.

Here’s the best I can do for the plot: Baby Arthur’s father (Eric Bana) is king, but is betrayed and usurped by his evil brother, Jude Law. Baby Arthur becomes Grown Arthur (Charlie Hunnam), a ripped fighter with a rude ’tude who lives in a brothel, where he has been raised by his surrogate mother, Prostitutes. (Don’t ask me to name a…

Guy Ritchie’s ‘King Arthur’ receives mixed reviews

  • This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Charlie Hunnam in a scene from,
    This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Charlie Hunnam in a scene from, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)
  • This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Jude Law in a scene from,
    This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Jude Law in a scene from, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

Deep into Guy Ritchie’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword ,” a bad guy who we’ve never met before informs Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) and his mates that they’d better be at the castle before dark if they want to see “the boy” and “the girl” again. It’s one of those harmless, up the stakes clichés that’s all too common in action movies, but, in the flawed yet amusing “King Arthur,” it unwittingly left me baffled. “Which girl?” I wondered, sincerely doubting that this was the intended effect.

At this point there are two options: The Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), a strange animal-controlling sorceress who we recently saw with a knife at her throat, or Maggie (Annabelle Wallis) who over the course of the movie is so underdeveloped that at different points I’d thought she was Arthur’s presumed to be dead mother (who is in fact played by the just similar enough-looking Poppy Delevingne) or the evil King Vortigern’s (Jude Law) wife. (She’s neither.) It’s a strange thing for a movie that is this packed to the brim with dialogue and clever exposition to have managed to so insufficiently explain a supposed key player. The film is somehow both overwritten and underwritten.

It’s a stretch to even deem it a King Arthur movie…