After much fanfare, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” flopped like a swallow carrying a coconut.
The $175 million production made only $17.7 million during its opening weekend, while “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” raked in $83 million in its second weekend.
Yet the film is British. Isn’t the entire Anglo-Saxon world supposed to get behind the national epic of Britain?
“It’s three years to make this movie,” said director Guy Ritchie on Joe Rogan’s podcast. “We were supposed to come out exactly a year ago. But then what happens is if you’re not a branded movie, you get elbowed off that date, you know. ‘Star Wars’ or something will come along. And then you’re not gonna compete with ‘Star Wars.’ So you gotta move cause you can’t compete.”
“Guardians 2” was not much of a bigger movie in terms of production costs, with a budget of $200 million compared to the $175 million of “King Arthur.” However, Ritchie knew his film would have trouble being released the weekend after.
“Guardians will be a vast hit, and it’s very dangerous being within the parameters of a big movie,” he said. “What exists now is the brand, is the Big Brother. So he comes muscling in, bullies his way into a weekend, and that’s why you can’t really get new films breaking through.”
“Now the focus is all on the flavor and not the substance.”
Yet, the reviews of Ritchie’s film have not been kind, with descriptions like “Game of Thrones without plot depth or nudity” thrown around.
Variety’s Peter Debruge called the film “A loud, obnoxious parade of flashy set pieces, as one visually busy, belligerent action scene after another marches by, each making less sense than the last, but all intended to overwhelm.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern said of it, “There was nothing to grasp, no sword of understanding to pull triumphantly from a stone. This latest retelling of the ancient Arthurian myth is a stinker for the ages.”
The film currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 27%.
So, perhaps it’d be better if King Arthur put down his sword and hid behind a shrubbery.