The writing was on the wall, but in the end, Guy Ritchie’s expensive revival of the King Arthur legend was a major dud in its first week of release. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, a revisionist on the Excalibur myth, amassed an estimated $14.7 million at the domestic box office on its opening weekend. That’s terrible news for a film with a reported budget of $175 million and one that distributor Warner Bros. had pegged as a potential franchise opportunity.
Going into the weekend, things looked grim for the Charlie Hunnam-led swashbuckler as unkind reviews started to trickle in (choice quote, courtesy of Justin Chang from The Los Angeles Times: “There are some first-rate performances in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, most of them delivered by computer-generated animals”) and early projected targeted a weak opening weekend. Matters may be worse than predicted: going into the weekend, King Arthur was pegged to earn $20-$25 million. Instead the feature couldn’t break out the teens and was logged a disappointing third place finish on the domestic box office chart. (First place was Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, once again, and second place went to the Amy Schumer-Goldie Hawn two-hander Snatched, which likely saw a bump thanks to the Mother’s Day holiday.)
In order for the costly picture to help its bottom line, a lofty take overseas will be necessary; something of which may not be feasible considering King Arthur has only minted about $30 million from international markets.
This new take on the legend centered on Arthur’s origins, from hard-luck youth to back alley fighting before learning his birthright. Ritchie directed the film and co-penned the script alongside Joby Harold (Awake) and Lionel Wigram (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.). Astrid Berges-Frisbey (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), Djimon Hounsou (Furious 7), Aidan Gillen (The Lovers), Eric Bana (Lone Survivor) and Jude Law (Spy) co-starred.
Two weeks into the summer movie season and the first casualty has officially been called. The summer season will hope to rebound this coming week with the release of Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant as well as the releases of the water park tentpoles Baywatch and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales over Memorial Day Weekend.