What ‘King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword’ Flop Teaches You About The Movie Industry

Is there anything like a ‘sure thing’ in the movie industry these days? Apparently not. And the producers of the supposed-to-be-hit-movie ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ realized that after learning a valuable lesson; or rather an expensive lesson. The lesson only cost them $153.2 million in studio losses.

King Arthur Legend of the Sword

How could a movie about King Arthur go wrong, you ask? The Arthur theme can be seen all around us, no matter your interests. It starts in infant years as you’ll find the tale in Shrek the Third and in many children’s TV series. For adults, just think of ‘Camelot’ on theatre stages, Wagner’s opera Tristan & Isolde, and the countless TV series such as Merlin (1998).

Even comic lovers know Camelot as a backdrop for some DC Comics stories and Arthur’s legends or similar medieval themes are also worked into popular video games. Think of how players love learning about it through Tomb Raider. Let’s not forget online casino gamers are often attracted to medieval type games, which is why PlayOJO’s Black Knight slot is a hit.

Yes, the legends (and their heroes & villains) are successfully used everywhere, so it made sense to use it for another film. After all, with modern special effects they could make it better than before, couldn’t they? Apparently not, as some critics stated the modern effects ruined the age old story. They immediately added this to their ‘hallowed list of great expensive follies.’

And not even the sexy cast including Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law could save the day. In the end it only managed a 31% rating from critics’ viewpoint. At least 69% of audiences liked it, but this is still far below expected results.

Let’s be fair and say, the failure to perform at the box office isn’t only attributed to a boring story line that ended in ‘a brutal, bleedin mess’ according to one review. Logistical challenges also added to the problems.

The famous story had to contend with more original ones that movie goers were simply more excited to see. There was Alien: Covenant and the long awaited Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2. For many there was no question which film they would spend their money on that opening weekend.

Could it have gone better for Charlie Hunnam in Guy Ritchie’s movie than only grossing $15 million that first weekend? Most probably, yes. At a different time, with different competition, the film could have gained more momentum at the start , resulting in slightly fewer losses (and embarrassment).

And that’s your Hollywood lesson for the day: In this business you can’t rely on any one thing to help you get your win. A popular cast, a good story and modern special effect tools won’t take you all the way. You need to master the skill of managing multiple factors and never forget that all important one: Timing. We all know this applies to real life. Once again the artists in Hollywood were reminded of it.

Will their next attempt prove they learnt their lesson well?

Heroic Staff

Heroic Staff

Heroic Special Activities Division Agent Trainee Program

  • NotCoolGuy420

    I think that Legend of the Sword flopped not because of bad reviews or strong competition but because people just weren’t interested. How many times can you tell the same story and expect people to be excited about it?

    • John From Raleigh

      While the article makes a great point, I skipped this movie even at Redbox, because as NotCoolGuy420 points out, how many times do we have to retell King Arthur.

      When are the studio’s going to learn, drop 50 mill or less on fresh ideas and their wins might not be as high, but their losses much less.

      it is STORY, that will get people into the theatre, not constant retelling of the same stories. I have a feeling Holmes and Watson might bomb for the same reason.

      • Matrix

        nice, I love the idea of more smaller mid-range budget films.

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