Guy Ritchie Eyeing Warner Bros.’ ‘King Arthur’ Movie Saga

Published 1 year ago by , Updated April 15th, 2014 at 11:18 am,

King Arthur Excalibur Movie Series Franchise Warner Bros. 2014 Guy Ritchie Eyeing Warner Bros. King Arthur Movie Saga

A major blockbuster retelling of the King Arthur legend is an idea that has been stuck in development hell – ever since the 2004 version from Olympus Has Fallen director Antoine Fuqua, starring Clive Owen as King Arthur. For the last four years we’ve heard rumor of several Arthurian projects (among them the defunct Excalibur) hovering in the background; meanwhile, King Arthur’s legend spread to TV with series like Merlin and Camelot.

Now word of a new King Arthur film adaptation has sprung up, and it is an ambitious vision, to say the least.

According to Deadline, filmmaker Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes 1 & 2) is “looking to make” a King Arthur movie series for Warner Bros. – a six-film saga, to be exact. The idea was reportedly fleshed-out by Joby Harold (Awake), who wrote the script for the first film. Also attached are super-producer Akiva Goldsman (ConstantineI Am LegendFringe, Lone Survivor) and Lionel Wingram, Ritchie’s production partner.

Ritchie and Wingram previously worked with WB developing Excalibur, whose script was written by Trainspotting scribe, John Hodge. It’s safe to say that at this point Ritchie has some idea of the world and lore – but six films certainly seems like a huge undertaking… Or does it?

King Arthur Movie Villains Guy Ritchie Eyeing Warner Bros. King Arthur Movie Saga

Warner Bros. is still adjusting to a post-Harry Potter world, and while the plan was to make superheroes their new cinematic centerpiece, those plans are moving slower than expected. King Arthur, meanwhile, is a property that could check a LOT of those Harry Potter boxes:

  • A well-loved story that could sustain five or more installments.
  • An age-based progression that stars off with a young kid and follows him through maturity.
  • Films that could deepen in tone and maturity over time – in accordance with the fanbase.
  • Action, adventure, magic, mystical creatures, Shakespearian family drama – WIZARDS and WITCHES.
  • Shared universe expansion opportunities (TV, spinoff films).
  • Merchandising out the whazoo for kids, adults – all demos.

It makes sense for the studio to use this property to their advantage, since shows like Merlin and Camelot had enough support behind them to prove that there are at least some hot embers left burning around the King Arthur brand, just waiting to be fanned into flame by a blockbuster picture. Meanwhile, Guy Ritchie has had to relaunch the Sherlock Holmes film brand in the midst of a resurgence (2 TV series and a film franchise right now, and counting…) but he certainly got it done with both artistic flair and commercial success.

Knights of the Round Table in Merlin Guy Ritchie Eyeing Warner Bros. King Arthur Movie Saga

Knights of the Round Table in ‘Merlin’

Right now, it’s unclear that Ritchie would be in for all six films – or if WB would even try to shoot them Lord of the Rings/Hobbit style in one long succession. Personally, I would go for the Harry Potter model; i.e., let someone direct a few of them and then rotate in new blood. If Chris Columbus had done a third Potter flick, we would never have Alfonso Cuarón’s awesome take on Prisoner of Azkaban

For now, consider us intrigued. Watching the full Arthurian legend play out in blockbuster style is something we’ve never seen. From his magic birth (influenced by Merlin), to his hard orphan youth, to his destiny with the sword in the stone, to his crowning, Forming The Knights of the Roundtable, their adventures, and the war with Arthur’s brother Mordred and half-sister Morgan le Fay – there is definitely material there for an epic film saga.

I’m seeing something that’s half Harry Potter and half Game of Thrones. How about you?


We’ll keep you updated on the status of the Untitled King Arthur Project as more is announced.

Source: Deadline

Images from FanPop & Newell Convers Wyeth

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  1. I’m down. Where so I sign up. Also screen rant should do their normal casting list for Arthur, if this does happen.

    • You mean, John Hamm, the guy from white collar, Orlando Bloom… the usual.

      • No not those guys, if there going to do this series Harry Potter style than they need to start with Arthur as a kid and follow him into adulthood. So what we need is a list of promising child actors to play the part.

  2. I’m game. He won me over with the excellent Snatch and in my opinion, his version of Sherlock Holmes is the best modern adaption of the three currently active (Sherlock Holmes movies, Sherlock and Elementary).

    Doubtful anyone will beat Grahan Chapman’s turn as King Arthur but still, exciting if true.

    • *Graham Chapman, sorry.

      • I still hold it up as the funniest movie I’ve ever seen (and lord knows why Life Of Brian keeps getting voted number 1 in annual polls, I find that the weakest of the three Python movies).

        • Yes, MP & THG definitely would be a fair contender for #1 in my book as well. Others that would be up there high on my list include Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and the original (first) Revenge of the Nerds movie. I would also rank Night Patrol up there pretty high on the ladder too.

    • His Holmes is the furthest thing from the original source material I have seen except Young Sherlock. I am glad you like it. But BBC FTW IMHO.

    • I always found Ritchie to be overrated. Despite Downey and Law’s brilliant performance, Guy’s interpretation of Sherlock Holmes was a generic action movie with very little characterization or even mystery solving. BBC’s Sherlock is vastly superior and surprisingly even more faithful being set in modern day.

      • I have to agree I found Ritchie’s take on Sherlock Holmes very underwhelming, I didn’t bother with the sequel so I can’t comment on that though.

        Snatch however was fantastic, so I am willing to give the man a chance on this.

        • Sherlock (BBC) is by far the best adaptation, but Ritchie’s sequel Game of Shadows was a marked improvement over his first Sherlock Holmes, which didn’t have much in the way of crime-solving.

          I think Ritchie’s writing was excellent in Snatch and Lock, Stock, but he only directed the Holmes movies and the script was the problem with his Sherlock Holmes. He could make some very interesting Arthurian movies if the writing has enough depth.

  3. Probably will be good but is rather have them focus on DC instead of more franchises

    • Maybe “King Arthur” is code for Aquaman… Probably not, but it would be a cool misdirect.

      • I see where your going with the Aquaman thing but honestly I’m more excited for this King Arthur series. Its good to see the Warner Bros isn’t putting all of there stock in their DC movie universe panning out and are looking at other properties as well.

        Besides if rumors our true than Aquaman is going to be set up in Batman v.s Superman.

    • As far as DC goes, we’re already getting our dream come true: a Batman and Superman team-up, Wonder Woman’s been cast with a multi-picture deal; things are going well in that department. No need to over do it like Marvel.

      The Arthurian story is rich, multifacted and sweeping; done right, it could stand to rival any fantasy on film, including Lord of the Rings. Bring it on.

  4. I’m interested.

  5. After having thoroughly enjoyed the John Boorman movie Excalibur, which overall was very well done, I would definitely be intrigued to see a big tentpole production of King Arthur…so much rich material there available! I am definitely intrigued (to use someone else’s word), and as long as it is done seriously (not a bunch of needless gratuitious nudity, snarky dorky dumb humor, not modernized or changed drastically from the legends and source materials), I am definitely front and center for this, at least at this point. This could be good, boys, don’t blow it! I always did like stuff like King Arthur-ish, Ivanhoe-ish, Robin Hood-ish type of adventure.

    • Well, Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies are set in the late 19th/early 20th centuries as in the books and don’t have gratuitous nudity or violence, nor do they have much goofiness (just the usual RDJ humour you’d expect, which works incredibly well amongst the serious dramatic undertones, like the Reichenbach Fall at the end of the second movie).

      If it’s anything like that, you might like it.

  6. I’m game, on one condition, Sam Neil as Merlin. Again.

    • This person is a genius. Sam Neill FTW!

  7. This would be really cool to see if it’s traditional Guy Ritchie form. Sort of gritty with the jabbering dialogue.

  8. I’ll do it! Let me direct! I’ll do it in a heart beat! For free! Henry Cavil as Arthur, Christopher Plummer as Merlin, maybe Chris Hemsworth for Lancelot (though typecasting :P )

  9. I don’t know if any of you ‘Ranters have read the Bernard Cornwell series of books about the Arthurian story but I would say it was an amazing read and I always thought it would make a great tv series and/or set of films. I was kinda hoping that this might be connected in some way, alas no.
    Still, I really enjoyed Ritchie’s version of Holmes (along with Snatch and Lock Stock of course) and trust he will do a good job with this, interesting news!

    • I have read several of Cornwell’s books, although not Arthurian ones yet. I have read Heretic, Agincourt, The Archer’s Tale, Vagabond, and 1356, and they are all written in excellent fashion and very enjoyable, similar to the novels of Robin Young and some of Jack Whyte’s in style. I have also bought Cornwell’s The Saxon Tales series, but have not gotten around to reading them yet.

    • I’ve read Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord series and I’m waiting for someone to make a movie or TV series out of them. They would work great in the style of Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. Sadly, after hearing this news, it looks like we’ll have to keep waiting.

      • The Cornwell saga was … meh.

      • Cornwell’s books were excellent. They would make a great series along the lines of Game of Thrones. However, if the studio is looking for something to replace Harry Potter, Cronwell’s work is far too realistic. It’s the story as it could have really happened, not the fantastical version that would appeal to kids / all ages. It would make a fantastic HBO series though.

        • Couldn’t agree more, it’s safe to say I think there are many fans of Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord chronicles waiting for this story to be put on the screen. For years I’ve been hearing this and the way Game of Thrones turned out only sparked such hopes more. If it’d become anything like that it would indeed not be suitable for all ages, but wouldn’t it be such a refreshing way of telling the Arthurian legend? We’ll just go on and keep hoping someone at some point will go ahead and give Cornwell’s trilogy the chance I personally think it deserves…

  10. They should adapt Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire Trilogy into a movie series. Just change the lead from a 14-year-old boy to someone early 20s-late 30s. Age change worked for Game of Thrones actors. Should work on this one too if done right.

  11. Ugh, it’s been my dream for years to direct a faithful King Arthur trilogy.


  13. Sorry, but this project is NONSENSE!

    First of all, King Arthur is NOT a property as anybody could make movies about those legends and lots of people have done so. That is not to say that a new fantasy version of the King Arthur / Camelot / Merlin / Holy Grail saga isn’t worthwhile at all, but SIX movies? Really? The problem is: if they start out doing it one by one and the first one bombs, they are dead in the water! Make it a TRILOGY! And film them back-to-back such as LOTR. Full stop. And if it is a success (which I doubt at this point given the weak performances of almost any LOTR / Potter wannabe franchise start-up, we’ve got at least a full cycle of three movies. If not, move on…

    Second, IF they really do it, make it a prequel to the world of Harry Potter and incorporate the foundation of Hogwarts somehow. We know the Order of Merlin exists in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. That way, this new movie series could be given some new relevance apart from retelling the stories we all know once again.

    • I think that would be am excellent idea, the only thing is, do most people who have seen the Harry Potter films know about the Order of Merlin?

  14. And i sy NO and again NO; if you guys want to say the best of Arthur and Merlin stuff, go back to Excalibur from John Boorman the best so far. My point why we just stop doing thoses reboots-remade-prequel-sequel staff?? that just s***** all thoses classics movies always compare but never equals

    • oops, doing a lot of gramatical faults on my previous comments, sorry, my first time, anyway, i was saying,: ” i say no and again no, if you guys want to see the best of……

  15. I’m all for a King Arthur/Merlin movie series.

  16. I approve of this.

  17. No love for Fuqua’s King Arthur movie? I really enjoyed his take on the story, and would have been happy to see a continuation of that story.

    p.s. is it only me who sees that King Arthur and Tears of the Sun (also directed by Fuqua) are virtually the same movie? Still enjoyed them both though

  18. I love King Arthur stories. I think WB can pull it off if they envision it as a fantasy-action-adventure, as opposed to the “telling the true story” approach bu Fuqua. I would say make one film first without setting the goal of turning it into a franchise. Let’s see how things turn out and then make the other films if everything goes well. I am not a fan of Arthur-as-a-kid story line.

  19. Just a little observation… The centre of the Britons empire at that time was in Strathclyde (Dumbarton Rock, then latterly Govan),so it would make a nice change to have less hammy English accents and ‘Shakespearian drama’ (these events took place WAY before Shakespeare’s time), and include more Celtic accents (the Brythonic language the Britons spoke evolved in to what is now Welsh… Luke Evans for King Arthur anyone???).

    • I agree, go according to history and not the way it is formerly told.

      Welsh accents and more Celtic. Let it be more Celtic than English, unlike most films indicate.

  20. Your article is not quite right. Arthur has been chronicled from birth to crowning in the MOVIE…”Merlin”.

  21. Harry Potter wishes it could have the foundations of King Arthur’s Mythology or the relevance of LOTR.

    On the other hand, I would like Guy Ritchie to finish with the last part of Sherlock Holmes before he takes this project. I also believe 3 films for King Arthur is way better than 6.

  22. Mordred is King Arthur’s son… he had it with Morgan Le Fey (his half sister).


    • I’m down as long as its “half Harry Potter” and not half Percy Jackson.

  23. Mordred was Arthur’s bastard son, not his brother….

  24. Please make the story of King Arthur according to history. Don’t make him with an english accent, he was a Welshman, so welsh accent and accurate storytelling and folklore.

    • You’re going to run into all sorts of problems trying to do Arthur according to historical context. There are several theories, none of them definitively proven. One of the theories is connected to Wales, yes, but it’s not proven. “He was a Welshman” is not a fact. Anton Fuqua used the other predominant theory, which was that he was a Roman commander who won some prestigious battles.

      Of course there’s also the factor that “Artorius” (the Roman root of the name Arthur) was used by several different prominent military figures, some of them even adopting the name as a sort of honorific. Who did what, and which one is considered “the real Arthur” is a very muddled & complicated issue. Also if you wanted to do Arthur in a historical way, most of the cool stuff attributed to him would be out the window & not in the movie, because most of it was invented much later.

  25. Great idea. do this series WB, but go Arthurian Fantasy. Arthurian History is a mess. Give us magic swords, magic, wizards and witches, celtic monsters, dragons, golden castles, forbidden romace, political intrigue and epic scale battles. I agree with Henry Cavill being ideal for Arthur Pendragon and Hugo Weaving for an otherworldly Merlin.