King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword
- Directed By: Guy Ritchie
- Written By: Joby Harold & Guy Ritchie & Lionel Wigram
- Release Date: May 12, 2017
- Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
- Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Jude Law
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $175 million||Financed by: Warner Bros; Village Roadshow; RatPac-Dune|
|Domestic Gross: $39,175,066||Overseas Gross: $109,500,000|
Director Guy Ritchie began working on the screenplay for a King Arthur project back in 2010 with writer John Hodge, but Warner Bros pushed that project aside. The studio went with a different iteration of the classic story in 2011 after WB purchased David Dobkin’s spec script Arthur & Lancelot for $2 million. Arthur & Lancelot was first budgeted at $90 million and as costs rose during development, the studio tried to cap the expenses at $110 million, but canceled the film when the budget would hit at least $130 million. In early 2014, while filming WB’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Ritchie became attached to a revived King Arthur picture and it was to be the first movie in a six film franchise. It was immediately dated for July 22, 2016.
The picture was co-financed by Warner Bros and Village Roadshow and received additional investment coin from Rat-Pac Dune (run by the dynamic duo of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and disgraced director/producer Brett Ratner). After an early cut screened poorly to test auds, costly reshoots were issued. In the long studio tradition of throwing mountains of money to fix a problem picture, the budget for King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword rose to a reported $175 million. King Arthur then began to shuffle around the release calendar. WB moved it to Feb. 17, 2017 and then pushed it to March 24. Sony then dated the high profile movie Life (which ended up bombing) for the 24th and WB moved King Arthur from that slot and put their low rent comedy CHIPS on that date. King Arthur was moved away from Life, only to be dated for May 12 — one week after Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and one week before Alien: Covenant. Regardless, there was probably never an ideal date for this ‘been there, done that’ property.
To help spread word of mouth and drum up audience interest, WB launched a nationwide free screening of the movie on April 27, which they dubbed the promotion “King for a Day.” The free screenings were originally at 150 AMC locations, but 50 additional screenings were added after strong audience interest. Sold out showings for $0 is where the good news ends for King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword. Tracking was pointing to an opening weekend near $25 million, but even that soft number for such an expensive film was in jeopardy when it landed mostly poor reviews.
The film bowed against Snatched and it tanked with just $15,371,270 — placing #3 for the weekend led by Guardians Of The Galaxy 2. Showing weak legs, King Arthur declined 53.5% in its second frame to $7,152,269 and fell 53.9% in its third session to $3,300,544. The domestic run closed with $39,175,066.
The offshore cume stalled at $109.5 million — which brings the worldwide total to $148.6 million. WB would see returned about $81.7M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would not even cover global P&A expenses and left King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword as one of the top 10 biggest movie bombs of all time and the biggest money loser of 2017. The movie did not even reach the catastrophic box office numbers of the $175 million budgeted 47 Ronin (151.7 million worldwide) and that film was entirely written off as a loss.