Why ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ Proved Box Office Flop of Legendary Proportions

Warner Bros. epic, which cost $175 million, becomes summer's first major bust.

May 15, 2017 10:12 am
King Arthur
Charlie Hunnam in 'King Arthur: Legend of the Sword' (Warner Bros.)

Sure, director Guy Ritchie’s version of King Arthur managed to pull the sword from the stone—but he failed to pull money out of moviegoers’ pockets.

With King Arthur: Legend of the Sword making an anything-but-epic debut at the box office this weekend, taking in just $14.7 million from 3,702 locations against a $175 million production budget, it will go down in the history books as the first major flop of summer 2017.

That sort of high-profile failure will inevitably bring out the sharpened swords—with critics blaming the casting of the relatively unknown Charlie Hunnam as the titular hero and Ritchie’s “flash over substance” style of filmmaking.

But Deadline.com has an interesting take, laying a share of the blame on Warner Bros. itself. Sources told the site that the studio misses former president Jeff Robinov’s emphasis on storytelling.

Once early test screenings were worrisome, the studio had to double down, driving up costs for reshoots.

“It was a train wreck,” one personal publicist told Deadline.

In a current multiplex landscape dominated by superhero films like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2., which won the weekend box office crown, though, it’s questionable whether a dusty old property like King Arthur: Legend of the Sword could have done much better in anyone else’s hands.

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