Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur, the first in a proposed six film series based on the Arthurian legend, has had its release date postponed by almost seven months. Originally slated to hit theaters on July 22, 2016, we now won’t see Guy Ritchie’s next effort until February 17, 2017. Starring Charlie Hunnam as Arthur, it seems there is nothing wrong with the production, and instead the decision is based on simple economics.
The film’s original release date would have pit it directly against both Star Trek Beyond and Ice Age: Collision, two potential behemoth films from established franchises with built-in audiences who could easily conquer the new kid on the block. While the new release date will have the film competing with sequels Bad Boys 3 and The Maze Runner: The Death Cure, both are lesser commodities; Bad Boys 3 in particular is still in flux, with no confirmation of whether or not Will Smith will reprise the role of Mike Lowrey. A Bad Boys picture headlining Martin Lawrence only would surely not prove much competition.
Joby Harold’s script for Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur will see a young, streetwise Arthur living on the streets of old London, oblivious to his royal heritage until he comes across the sword Excalibur. He sets out to avenge his murdered parents and take his rightful place on the throne whilst battling the evil Vortigern. With the new release date falling on President’s Day weekend in America and other children’s holidays across Europe, the tone that is being sought is clear.
The revised date is pretty much the same time of year in which both of Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies were released, and they both brought in thoroughly respectable box office receipts. Last February’s Kingsman: The Secret Service took over $128m domestic and $286m abroad, figures that Warner would be more than happy with. Knights is the first in a proposed Cinematic Universe – like everything released these days, it seems – an Arthurian CU if you will. Ritchie is seen as a safe pair of hands, bringing in pictures on time, on budget, and able to make money (notwithstanding his most recent, The Man from Uncle, which only just scraped past the $100m worldwide mark).
With Charlie Hunnam as Arthur and Jude Law as Vortigern, Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur also stars Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as Guinevere, Katie McGrath, Eric Bana, Djimon Hounsou, and, er, David Beckham in some vague bad-guy-but-also-handsome-and-stuff role.