Guy Ritchie Working on 6 Film King Arthur Series

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Guy Ritchie Working on 6 Film King Arthur Series

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trade News | January 29, 2014 | Comments ()


Hey, remember when Guy Ritchie was that nifty up and coming British director who kept making off the wall clever comedies of crime and violence? Snatch, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels? He introduced us to the Statham, to Brad Pitt speaking in tongues, and generally gave off a sort of Tarantino vibe.

Then he married Madonna and shit got weird.

Then he divorced Madonna and he shifted gears back to the Downey version of Sherlock Holmes, which is serviceable if not Cumberbatchian.

So now, Guy Ritchie wants to tell the story of King Arthur in a six film epic. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, the story of King Arthur is fantastic fodder for film, and it has never really been done all the way right. There were a couple of memorable takes a good three decades ago at this point, but since then we’ve endured Richard Gere as Sir Lancelot in as monumentally bad a film as has ever been made. Not to mention 2004’s King Arthur, which manages to be retrospectively even more disappointing on account of starring Clive Owen, Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, and Kiera Knightley’s dislocated jaw from the header picture.

The problem is that filmmakers don’t seem to have the slightest clue why the Arthur legend is so enduring. They just have no inkling of the layers of metaphor and resonance that the story has when told over and over again. They just see swords and battle, and don’t understand why that’s falling flat on the screen (also see: Petrus Jacksonitis, a related disease).

So yeah, Ritchie might convince some studio to front $150 million to set up this tent pole, and then it’ll flop as hard a narcoleptic high diver, and then studios will draw the conclusion that the problem is with the source material and not with the fact that they keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • catagisreading

    "Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a government.... you can't expect to yield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you"

  • Tinkerville

    Six films? Six?! Oh, for fuck's sake..

  • Justin Kuhn

    That won't leave much time to make the RocknRolla sequel...

  • csb

    I can't help but think.

  • Anybody remember Boorman's Excalibur?

  • Salieri2

    Remember it? I'm a woman of a certain age, and straight as straight gets, and Helen Mirren will always be Morgana in chainmail to me. [fans self]. Also, Nicol Williamson. [fans self some more]. And SirPatStew. Gabriel Byrne. Liam Neeson. I'll be in my bunk.

  • manting

    Ever listen to the Dino De Laurentiis dvd commentary? It was Liam Nesson's first film and he was getting down with Helen Mirren.

  • Salieri2

    Whoa. I wonder how you move on from that kind of introduction to your film career. Neeson's expectations would have been unreasonably high.

  • Art3mis

    I would so love a really great King Arthur adaptation, but there is no way Guy Ritchie is going to produce that.

    If I had enough money to independently finance movies, I would create a multi-picture adaptation in which half the films are based on The Once and Future King and are directed by Ang Lee, half are based on The Mists of Avalon telling the other side of the same events and are directed by Jane Campion, and then the final film brings everybody together for the climax (no idea who would direct that -- I'd suggest a death match between Lee and Campion, but that would obviously be bad for humanity).

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I always wanted a 13 episode PBS/BBC type series...filmed with all the love, intelligence and talented actors of something like the War of the Roses cycle they had in the fall.

  • THUNDERDOME! Two directors enter, one director leaves.

  • This.

  • Guy is the wrong guy for this. The tales of King Arthur which have turned into some of the most fantastic books of the last 50 years (The Once and Future King, Mists of Avalon, The Crystal Cave) have only been butchered in film. And nothing in Guy Ritchie's oeuvre suggests he'll do more than cast some victoria secret models and feature muddy knights disemboweling each other in slomo.

    That being said if somebody fantastic were to tackle these stories I it would be the best thing since Frozen (sorry I'm still loving this movie.)

  • BWeaves

    I'm still waiting for a GOOD Sir Gawain and the Green Knight movie. The poem is long enough to make a good movie and short enough that they wouldn't have to leave anything out. And, Tolkien did a lovely translation of the poem into modern English, so they have that to go on. Common people. Try something new. Sir Gawain was just as popular as King Arthur, back in the day (before my childhood).


  • Sean Connery played the Green Knight in an adaptation from the late '70's/early '80's. It's all swords-and-sorcery nonsense but Connery does dye himself green and chews him up some scenery. Here you go, because why should I be the only one with this in my head:

  • manting

    There are a couple from the seventies and neither is very good.

  • The problem is that filmmakers don't seem to have the slightest clue why the Arthur legend is so enduring.

    True. I'd rather see a six film Mists of Avalon adaptation but Guy Ritchie can't touch that.

  • Tinkerville

    The Mists of Avalon miniseries was incredible and did the job brilliantly, as least IMO.

  • Whereas I thought it was good on paper, but was so, so disappointing in reality.

  • It shoulda/woulda been great but wasn't.

  • Al Borland's Beard

    I may be the only one, but I want a sequel to Rocknrolla.

  • Sassy Pikachu

    Many times yes. That dance sequence with Gerald Butler had me in stitches.

    Also, more Mark Strong please.

  • I second this...

  • Maybe he wants to base them on the Stephen Lawhead books, which I would be fine with, if he finished up with Avalon.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Still haven't read the Lawhead books, because I haven't come across the first one in a used bookshop yet.

    I am very partial to Parke Godwin's Firelord and Beloved Exile (due for a reread!). I also enjoyed Mary Stewart's group...and while not my favorite, Mists of Avalon did a fantastic job of setting up the battling forces of Pagan/Christianity and Roman/native Briton. (I coulda done without the threeway and I hate Gwynhyfar as a wimp, even if the character makes sense in context).

    For a totally *different* take on the story, with little adherence to traditional aspects of the myth, Bernard Cromwell's series is very good.

  • Godwin all the way. Firelord never grabbed me, and The Last Rainbow took a while, but wow, can I not get enough of Beloved Exile.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I'm heading to Ireland in May, and The Last Rainbow will probably be coming with me. (or reread in advance).

    And yes, yes, to Beloved Exile. Which grabbed me when I was 15 because - book in the school library with a blowjob! - but kept me because of how Gwen was written. I read that before Firelord.

  • I think I read them in reverse order: Last Rainbow first, Firelord last. Godwin's Gwen is my favorite portrayal. So smart! So strong! So flawed! She's compelling and maddening at the same time.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    yes, definitely the best Gwen I've come across. And one of the many other books are so unsatisfying for that reason.

  • jennp421

    Have you read Bernard Cornwall's trilogy? I like that one a lot.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Oh yes, that's who I meant, not Cromwell.

  • I liked the Godwin series, too. I haven't read the Cromwell one yet, so thanks for the recommendation!

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Oh, as Jennp421 notes above, that should be Cornwell, not Cromwell. Same guy who did the Sharpe series. First book is The Winter King.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    It falls under the "excellent reimagining" rather than "definitive" category.

    And a definitive movie is, alas, what we all seek. (and yes, that is what makes the Clive Owen King Arthur that much more disappointing. All the ingredients were there...)

  • thatsmrsnyder

    My GOD yes. I have read that series ten times over, and think it's brilliant. I would *love* to see a movie version (especially of Merlin), but... Guy Ritchie? I really like him, and will defend his Downy-ish Holmes adaptation to the death, but... This really calls for Ridley Scott.

  • snrp


  • I actually just finished re-reading the Stephen Lawhead books. They're always just as good as I remember them.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    I am not disappointed by Mads Mikkelsen, SLW. Even when he has braids in his face and he dies mid-movie and he looks filthy all the time.

  • emmalita

    The only thing good about that disaster of a movie is that it introduced me to Mads Mikkleson. Casting Mads and letting the camera love his face are the only reasons I didn't start setting things on fire.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    Also Hugh Dancy's face, which is a face that just wouldn't quit being pretty. I very much enjoy this movie as an incredibly bad preface for Hannibal.

  • emmalita

    I confess I barely noticed Hugh Dancy. I was too torn between rage (the movie and it's awfulness) and wonder (Mads Mikkleson). I sure do notice him on Hannibal though.

  • I think 'Excalibur' is one of the best Arthurian movies ever made, although it is just a tetch dated. Also, I prefer the Downey, Brett, Miller, and Rathbone Sherlock Holmes to Cumberbatch's lizard with Aspergers version.

  • manting

    be careful, the Cumberbatchites are everywhere, especially on this site. I think they are related to the Anna Kendirkians who are also quite numerous on here.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Dated doesn't describe it quite so well. "Bad Acid Trip" is better.

  • manting

    Excalibur is, by far, the best Aurthur film. It follows the source material more than any other and I definitely think the first Sherlock Holmes film is near perfect for a big budget mass appeal movie.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    but the question when it comes to Arthurian movies is always "which source material is best?"

  • manting

    Mallory's Le Morte d'Arthur - Excalibur is the tits. Liam Neissens first film, its also got Patrick Stewart and Gabriel Burn.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Right, but Le Morte d'Arthur might be my least favorite version of the Arthur story. (and where's Merlin's metal helmet in that again...?)

  • manting

    but all the versions you do like use Le Morte d'Arthur as their foundation. Plus it has this which never fails to stir me up.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    No, they tend to go older than Morte and have Arthur defending chiefly against the Saxons, usually against Cedric or Hengest (as in Geoffrey of Monmouth).

  • manting

    Im a big fantasy literature nerd (and history) - perhaps you could recommend a few Authur ones. Ive read all the obvious ones, Mists of Avalon, Once and Future King, Dragonbone Chair, and a few others.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Read the whole comment string - lots of recommendations. And no one's mentioned it, but A A Attanasio has a fat Arthur book. It's on my shelf but I haven't read it yet.

  • Well, Excalibur is more than a tetch dated but you're more than a tetch right about Cumberbatch's Sherlock.

  • JenVegas

    Excalibur is one of my favorite movies of all time.

  • Sue

    "it’ll flop as hard a narcoleptic high diver" - perhaps one of my favorite lines of movie critique ever :)

  • John G.

    I didn't check who wrote this one before I started reading, but I liked it, and then I got to this sentence:

    They just have no inkling of the layers of metaphor and resonance that the story has when told over and over again.

    and I said "shiiiiiiiiit, is this a Steven Lloyd Wilson joint?" And it was. It really was.

  • Allijo


    I had to get that out.

  • kinoumenthe

    Ugh, Merlin.
    I also had to get that out.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    But seriously, Merlin.
    Why more, Ritchie? Merlin was quite enough.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    That's setting the standard a bit low, don't you think?

  • Pants-are-a-must

    In the sense that we've seen quite enough terrible adaptations of the legends in pop culture lately? Yes.

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