In the end, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was much maligned by critics, ranking at only 31 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with audiences not being much kinder. The movie also only made $148.7 million at the box office, resulting in a loss of around $150 million. So it is no surprise that the studio shut the door on any future endeavours involving the Arthurian legend. Still, Hunnam certainly sounds passionate about the project, so maybe he should be given another chance to bring Arthur to life sometime in the near future.
It all sounded so good on paper. Director Guy Ritchie, who reimagined Sherlock Holmes as a smart scrapper played by Robert Downey Jr., wanted to do a fresh take on the King Arthur legend. He cast Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam as the born king, raised in a brothel on the mean streets of medieval Londinium. Then Ritchie got Jude Law to play the self-hating evil mage king Vortigern. Plus there would be Iron Age street fights, giant monsters, and swords! How could it go wrong? Yeah, about that...
Skip to 2017, and we've got a ton of high-quality streaming services offering more options than ever. Do we really need yet another King Arthur movie when we've got Game of Thrones and Vikings? Make it an epic, gritty miniseries for Netflix or tone down the violence, crank up the courtly intrigue, and put it on PBS opposite Downton Abbey. Either way, fans of sword 'n' sorcery stories don't need to schlep out to the theater for this kind of thing unless they really feel like they can count on solid results.
In fact, for some critics, Legend of the Sword's failure inspired some retroactive Holmes-bashing. The Atlantic equated casting Robert Downey, Jr. as Holmes to "cultural vandalism" in its negative review of The Legend of the Sword. Following a similar thread, The Federalist decried Legend of the Sword's irreverence for the legend of Camelot and what it represents, going so far as to condemn Ritchie's movie wholesale for "deeply mishandling the profundity" of the source material. If and when Ritchie gets around to making a third Holmes movie, don't expect a warm critical welcome.
A retelling of the old English legend: Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is raised in a brothel after his father, the king, is murdered by his uncle (Jude Law) and is unaware of his royal bloodline. When he is the only young man able to free the mystical sword left in a stone by his father he must decide whether to accept his new role. Also with Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen, Freddie Fox, Craig McGinlay, Tom Wu, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Neil Maskell, Annabelle Wallis and Bleu Landau. Directed by Guy Ritchie. [2:06] 2b1af7f3a8