UPDATE: After Friday totals predictions are now as low as $14 million.
#KingArthurLegendOfTheSword bombs on opening day making weak $5.3M heading to dismal $14M wknd. $250M+ spent on production & mktg. Disaster.— Gitesh Pandya (@GiteshPandya) May 13, 2017
Guy Ritchie’s expensive retelling of the King Arthur mythos, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, is poised to be this summer’s first major box office bomb. The film, which opened on Friday, certainly had an uphill climb at the box office, as it was going up against the Marvel hit Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Though King Arthur had little-to-no shot of topping the MCU space opera for the #1 position this weekend, Warner Bros. was still holding out hope that the action/adventure flick would be able to find an audience and stand out for those looking for genre thrills that aren’t comic book related.
Things seemed to be looking up for Legend of the Sword a few weeks back when advanced screenings saw high attendance numbers and positive buzz on social media was highlighted in TV spots. However, King Arthur was dealt a bad hand when the professional reviews widely panned the project, and that seems to have hurt its commercial prospects. Based on how it’s performed so far, the film is going to get off to a horrible start.
According to Variety, King Arthur is projected to gross just $18 million domestically in its first three days, which is definitely not what the studio wanted. The film’s production budget (which typically does not include marketing costs) stands at a whopping $175 million, meaning it would have to earn approximately $350 million globally just to make its money back. WB will obviously be hoping for a stronger turnout in the international markets to try to save face, since it looks like in America King Arthur is a non-starter.
One of the main reasons why this is such a disaster for the studio is the fact Legend of the Sword is unlikely to have any kind of legs at the box office. Next week sees the release of Alien: Covenant and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales comes out on May 26. With two high-profile franchise installments right around the corner, King Arthur will probably fall down the charts in the coming weeks. If interest is this low at the start and word-of-mouth is mostly negative, the odds of it turning things around are very low. Chances are WB will have to count their losses on this one and hope Wonder Woman can make up for it when it premieres in June. Luckily for them, the Gal Gadot vehicle is expected to be a hit.
It will be interesting to see if King Arthur‘s failures are the start of a trend for the summer box office or simply the byproduct of the property not being in high demand. Analysts believe the domestic total between May and Labor Day will be the lowest in 10 years, and Legend of the Sword could be proof those predictions aren’t misguided. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that every summer (even the most lucrative ones) have a flop or two, so no year is perfect. Pop culture icons like Jack Sparrow and Diana Prince have a better shot to leave a lasting impression on general audiences.