There’s been an unusual amount of digital ink spilled trying to figure out why Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword performed just as badly as it did. The fantasy epic made 14 million on opening weekend Stateside against a budget that was reportedly close to 200 million. In short, it bombed badly and there’s been no shortage of pundits telling us just why. For the most part they read like ancient oracles trying to explain an earthquake by looking at animal entrails. If only there was some way of figuring this out.
Indiewire claimed a lack of strong female characters and hardcore violence were to blame. While it would be great if more Hollywood output had better roles for actresses, this is a movie with a botched screenplay. For example, at one point Jude Law must sacrifice a loved one to a sea monster to gain evil wizard powers (just accept it and move on). I don’t think his apparent love has one line before this occurs and so we feel nothing. However, rather than point to script problems Indiewire seem to think all the story needed was more gore and more women. The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies did just fine while also being bloodless sausage fests so it’s hard to believe that all audiences wanted was for Lady Guinevere to turn up and curb stomp someone.
Whatculture partially blamed competition from sword n’ sandals TV like Game Of Thrones and Vikings. Even ignoring that, this King Arthur bears as much resemblance to Game of Thrones as Tammy and the T Rex does to Jurassic Park, the argument runs like this: if people can watch something similar at home they will. This, too, is hard to buy in a world where World War Z makes bank and The Walking Dead draws in millions of viewers simultaneously. Marvel’s forays into TV don’t seem to have dampened their movies’ hauls either.