Sunday, 20 April 2014

Guy Ritchie's King Arthur set for 2016

Warner Bros' attempts to turn King Arthur into a big cinematic character (and kick off a new franchise in the process) are enough to fill their own book of myths and legends. Now one of the questing directors who previously tried to bring the legend to the big screen, Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows), appears ready to give it another shot with news that his take on King Arthur now has a release date. Warners have nabbed the otherwise unoccupied tentpole summer slot of 22 July 2016, proving by some divine providence that Guy Ritchie is to carry Excalibur.





Back in 2010 when he first started the project, Ritchie's thrust was thought to be very much based on Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, the 15th Century text that assembled most of the popular tales of Arthur (the Knights of the Round Table, the Holy Grail, Merlin, Gareth, Lancelot and Guinevere, Arthur's battles with Rome, Tristan and Isolde and so on) into a single narrative. The implication was that, in contrast to Antoine Fuqua's 2004 King Arthur and Jerry Zucker's 1995 First Knight, Ritchie's King Arthur would be reinstating the magic and fantasy elements of the story.

That version was cooked up in cahoots with Trance (2013) writer John Hodge, before Warners opted to ditch it completely in favour of Wedding Crashers (2005) director David Dobkin's Arthur And Lancelot, about the titular pair's younger days. Dobkins' take got as far as casting Kit Harington (Game Of Thrones) and Joel Kinnaman (RoboCop) as the leads, with an offer out to Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight Rises) as Merlin, before budget disagreements shut everything down.

So here's Ritchie again, this time working with writer Joby Harold (Awake). Whether Harold's approach has retained the Malory basis of Hodge's work remains to be seen, but initial reports that this King Arthur is intended as the first of six instalments, suggests the plan is to work through the whole saga, giving each chapter plenty of running time.

The current release date would see King Arthur open a week after Ice Age 5 and a week before Matt Reeves' (Let Me In) as yet untitled third Planet Of The Apes sequel. There's no start date or cast yet, but Ritchie will presumably get properly cracking as soon as he's finished up The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which is out in the UK on 16 January next year.

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