King Arthur is officially a box office bomb after opening to even less than predicted at the domestic box office. The disaster of Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword has been a long time coming. The project was first announced in 2014 intended to be the start of a multi-part franchise for Warner Bros., taking three years to make it to the screen. Medieval fantasy adventures are a strained prospect in the modern movie-making landscape, and as the film came together it was unclear what exactly the director, who made his name in hard-boiled British gangster flicks, was going for.
The reviews have been roundabout poor (it has 27% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing) and despite a B+ CinemaScore was predicted to perform very poorly at the box office, with original guesses in the $25 million region. These since dropped to $18 million following a disastrous, although it transpires even those were too optimistic. The weekend estimates are in and it looks like the film is a massive bomb.
As reported by Variety, King Arthur made just $14.7 million in its opening weekend, barely making a dent in behemoth Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘s continued box office dominance. The film made a further $29.1 million overseas leading to a $43.8 million total.
King Arthur is yet to open in many international territories – including the UK, where the legend obviously originates – but these initial numbers are so low there’s little chance of redemption.
The reason for the scale of this bomb is twofold. Obviously it’s a very low amount as is, but the scale of it is amplified by the size of the budget – Warner Bros. invested almost double what they’ve spent on next month’s Wonder Woman ($100 million) in The Legend of the Sword. That’s a mammoth amount and as common Hollywood accounting states that a film needs to make double its budget to break even, it would need to hit $350 million to be in the black. In comparison, Amy Schumer/Goldie Hawn comedy Snatched just opened to a comparable $17.5 million, but costing only $42 million has a much better shot of turning a profit.
WB will no doubt be keen to figure out why the film failed, but the clear explanation is that the idea of a new take on the mythology just wasn’t what 2017 audiences wanted. This isn’t the first time they’ve hit this barrier; just last year the studio released The Legend of Tarzan, another reimagining of a legacy property that performed similarly poorly, which suggests a focus shift is needed. With Wonder Woman impending, they’re surely hoping for a change of fortune.