King Arthur: Legend of the Sword–Artistic and Commercial Flop

Warner and Village Roadshow’s historical saga, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword — costing $175 million to make before marketing — is a flop of epic proportions after launching disastrously to $14.7 million from 3,702 theaters to mark the first big bomb of summer 2017.

It is one of the worst openings ever for a big-budget studio event film. and also a failure overseas. The movie could be facing a loss of well north of $100 million.

The movie was topped in the U.S. by Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn’s Snatched in a surprise upset. The Mother’s Day action-comedy opened to $17.5 million from 3,501 theaters. Fox spent a relatively modest $42 million to make the R-rated movie, but was certainly hoping for a bigger bow, considering Schumer’s Trainwreck debuted to $30 million in summer 2015. Overall, it was one of the slowest Mother Day weekends in years in terms of revenue.

Produced by Chernin Entertainment, director Jonathan Levine’s Snatched follows a mother and daughter who find themselves trying to escape after being abducted on vacation in Ecuador. The comedy, which received mediocre reviews and a B CinemaScore, marks Hawn’s first turn on the big screen in 15 years, as well as Schumer’s first film since Trainwreck.

Schumer may be controversial, but Snatched succeeded in red states. The comedy over-indexed in all parts of the country, save for the Rockies and Western states. Specific markets that over-indexed included cities in Florida, as well as Oklahoma City and San Antonio. Females made up 77 percent of the audience, while 51 percent of ticket buyers were between the ages of 18 and 34.

“Teaming an edgy comedian with a comedian who is America’s sweetheart is like the consummate political ticket that makes sure all of your constituents are served,” said Fox president domestic distribution Chris Aronson.

King Arthur, starring Charlie Hunnam as the mythical king and Jude Law as Merlin, is a dark origin story about the future royal’s tough upbringing in the back alleys of his city. But once Arthur pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy. Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen and Eric Bana also star.

“The concept didn’t resonate with a broad audience, and we’re disappointed. We had higher hopes,” said Warner domestic distribution chief Jeff Goldstein. The studio also missed with Pan (2015) and Jack the Giant Slayer (2013), which were likewise attempts to spin new live-action franchises based on classic IP, as leader Disney has done with any number of hits, including the recent Beauty and the Beast.

King Arthur, whose release was delayed numerous times, was skewered by critics, but received a B+ CinemaScore from audiences. Males made up nearly 60 percent of the audience.

King Arthur debuted to a tepid $29.1 million from its first 51 markets, including a miserable $5.1 million in China. It still has numerous major markets in which to open, including the U.K. and Australia.

Rounding out the top five domestically were The Fate of the Furious and The Boss Baby.