‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ Now Poised to Lose $150 Million

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Warner Bros.

The latest addition to the pantheon of mega-flops has been anointed. Just as street hooligan Arthur instantly ascended to royalty when he pulled Excalibur from its stone, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has descended to ignominy by pulling a turd out of the box-office. Perhaps not my best lede work, but it’s Monday. Cut a guy some slack.

But yes, Guy Ritchie’s rough-and-tumble treatment of the classic Camelot mythos failed to connect with audiences this weekend, summoning a mortifying $15.4 million over the weekend. Trailing the far more Mother’s Day-friendly Amy Schumer comedy Snatched by a slim margin (Schumer and Co. picked up $17.5 million), Ritchie’s film is expected to burn over $150 million for presiding studio Warner Bros. The bloated $175 million budget and its attendant spectacle did nothing to goose the film’s appeal for the public, and while its failure is now abundantly clear, the factors precipitating it remain murky.

The Hollywood Reporter ran a sort of DOA post-mortem for the film, in which box-office analyst Jeff Bock provides the memorable quote: “King Arthur is a paint-by-numbers Hollywood disaster — wrong director, wrong cast, wrong script, etc. The whole Game of Thrones-on-steroids direction the studio went with from the get-go just didn't get anyone psyched to see this.” The overall aesthetic of the film, undoubtedly indebted to HBO’s massively popular medieval fantasy series, certainly seems like one of the missteps. (Turns out the sex and violence are pretty major selling points for Game of Thrones. Who knew?) But Ritchie’s wild oscillations in tone, from glossy CGI extravaganza to rowdy Ritchieness, couldn‘t have made the film easy to market.

Nothing left for Warner Bros. to do now but lick their wounds and escape with what little home-video capital they can in a few months. All those plans for sequels and expanded universes, for nothing.

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