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Is Warner Bros. Prepping Not One, Not Two, Not Five, But Six King Arthur Movies?

As a subject, King Arthur movies never really die out. If there’s a particularly bad one it will retreat to the Isle of Avalon, lying in wait until a big studio needs a tentpole with name recognition. Then it will emerge from the mists of time, ready to reclaim its fantasy throne from the upstarts. You thought you were the apex of the sword and sorcery genre, Game of Thrones. You know nothing.

It’s about that time again, as after several false starts Warner Bros. is reportedly considering a six-film King Arthur saga, to be directed by Guy Ritchie.

The history of Warner Bros.’ failed King Arthur movies, as reported on Deadline, is a veritable saga in and of itself. Back in 2010 the studio had two King Arthur projects in development, one by Ritchie and the other by Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin, which at various points Colin Farrell, Gary Oldman, Kit Harington, and Joel Kinnaman were rumored to star in. The Ritchie movie fell by the wayside, as did a planned Excalibur remake, and Dobkin’s film was canned for being too expensive.

Now Warner Bros., on the hunt for a post-Harry Potter franchise they can make bank on, is back to Ritchie, only instead of one film the plan is reportedly for six. (With the final film to be broken down into parts one and two somewhere down the line, I’m sure). There’s no word on how the series will approach the King Arthur legend except that it will be fantasy (unlike the 2004 Keira Knightley movie, which was touted as a “demystified” approach). There’s not even any confirmation that the series is definitely happening, and even if there were, this is a pretty big undertaking that could easily linger in development hell for a long, long time. We know the first movie is being written by by Joby Harold, whose only film writing credit is the Jessica Alba and Hayden Chrisensen-starring 2007 thriller Awake. That’s about it.

Which means it’s time to shoot the shit and talk about what we’d want from an epic King Arthur fantasy series. An entire movie devoted to Morgana wrecking everybody’s business is the beginning and the end of that list for me. And John Hurt can be there. And maybe Anthony Stewart Head. Guys, I just want Merlin back.

(via: Indiewire)

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  • tsee

    How about we just can whatever they are planning and have a six-movie series that picks up where Merlin left off? It’s been over a year and I still cry whenever I see gif sets of that damned final scene on Tumblr.

  • Anonymous

    No, no Warner Brothers, you misheard us. We wanted a bunch of “Jaws” movies. Though Jaws and Arthur do sound similar I suppose (just roll with it people).

  • J Ritchey

    After the mess that is the RDJ Holmes, I don’t really think I want to see a Guy Ritchie take on King Arthur and company.

  • Steven McDade

    Oh dear Lord! Can we not return to the land of EPICS and have a 3 and a half hour movie with an intermission? Oh Excalibur should have been the final and ONLY King Aurthur epic anymore.

  • jedi_penguin

    I’ve been waiting for an epic film version of Mary Stewart’s “Crystal Cave” trilogy for thirty years now. If we’re throwing out never-going-to-happen dream ideas, that would be mine.

  • Aeryl

    This is why I come to the Mary Sue. On no other site will I find the Jerry Bruckheimer produced, Antoine Fuqua directed, Clive Owen starring King Arthur called “the 2004 Keira Knightley movie”.

    It also had Stannis Baratheon, Titus Pullo, Beowulf, Will Graham, Hannibal, and Owen Lars. It was so awesome.

    Oh, and Reed Richards was in it too.

  • Aeryl

    I agree. Give me a six movie adaptation of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon, please.

    And I like Ritchie’s Holmes, but he better keep his hands of my Arthur.

  • tsee

    My personal favourite moment of that otherwise-forgettable film was Will Graham saying that he doesn’t “kill people for pleasure”, and Hannibal telling him he “should try it someday…[He] might get a taste for it”. AU fodder perfection.

  • myverysarcasm

    I just want one good King Arthur adaption in which Arthur & Morgaine are portrayed as soulmates from beginning to end.
    Also, how about Morgaine and Gwen being and staying friends for once?
    How about leaving out Lancelot, the most annoying modern addition to the legend?
    How about instead showing the canonically Gwen/Mordred love affair when Gwen things that Arthur has died and finds comfort in Mordred’s arms?
    How about doing justice to the legendary ending in which Arthur lies dieing on the ground and Morgaine takes him to Avalon to heal his wounds but under the condition that he may not leave her island again until thousands of years in the furture when Britain’s need for him is at its greatest?
    Also, Morgaine and Merlin having sex while he teaches her magic is alwas a good idea!

  • J Ritchey

    I could go for a Mists of Avalon adaption.

    I like Ritchie’s Holmes as far as I can pretend it isn’t supposed to be Holmes. Change all the names and it’s a decent enough ride.

  • J Ritchey

    I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it referred to otherwise.

  • Knour1945

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  • Katie Utke

    If they get a decent writer, I would love to see each film take the perspective of different members of the court. the first is Arthur’s, then Merlin’s, then Gwendolyn’s, then Lancelot’s, then Morgen Le Fay’s, then another character.

  • locuas

    that’s………actually a really, really, really, really good idea. By making it six movies instead of one they would have enough time to focus on all the characters(remember there are other knights beside arhur and Lancelot? not to mention Morgana, Merlin, the lady of the Lake, GInnevre). Maybe starting with Arthur’s childhood and finishing with his dead at the hands of his Incestuous son.
    I can totally see an epic six-parter arthurian saga.

  • Elwyne

    Mists of Avalon turned me off the whole genre; I hated that book more than I’ve ever hated a book in my life. No Arthur for me, kthxbai.

    RDJ Holmes is awesome. It’s not Holmes, but it’s awesome. :)

  • Bethany C.

    Oh my god yes, just make 6 Merlin movies.

  • Anonymous

    I actually really liked Meg Cabot’s updated version of it in her book Avalon High. Meg Cabot always had a fun take on teen drama and adding in the King Arthur legend was pretty cool. And no, I never bothered with the Disney Channel Original Movie version.

  • Nigel Bradley

    I have a soft spot for King Arthur mythology. If done right, it could be brilliant. If done for cheese… well then… bleh.

  • Gordon Borland

    so Ritchie’s Holmes is the best Sexton Blake adaptation ever made?

  • Anonymous

    You know what I want, I want a series in apocalyptic future Britain in which Merlin and resurrected Arthur (and reincarnated supporting cast) save the land in its hour of need

  • Anonymous

    Like someone finally fitting in Gawain and the Green Knight in there. Fave story and one of the oldest.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    But arn’t they doing new Harry Potter movies as well?

  • Anonymous

    I’m starting to get seriously fed up with this constant returning to the Northern European Fantasy Land. How many Arthur films and shows have there been? All in a genre that’s filled to the gunwales with Stock Northern European Fantasy tropes? Are we still going to have a few token people of colour, and only represent classic feudal economy/political/social structure, and go back to the same old monsters and magic?

    Sorry, I’m normally very positive about new fantasy films, but we’ve been crying out for more diverse fantasy for YEARS now, and here we have SIX movies based on one of the most archetypal Northern European fantasies of them all? One that’s already been adapted DOZENS of times?

  • Supermorff

    Things I have never seen in an Arthurian adaptation that would help distinguish this one from the others:

    1. Get some focus on Esclabor, the Saracen King of Bablyon, and his family, including sons Palamedes, Segwarides and Safir. Make them proper heroes with their own stories. Or follow Aglovale’s adventures in the Moorish lands, when he loves and marries a Moorish princess and has a mixed-race son who grows up to be a Knight of the Round Table. OR DO BOTH!

    2. Play with the Welsh sources that give Arthur three wives called Guinevere instead of just one. Maybe one after the other or, hey, all at once. It’s certainly one way to address the gender imbalance. And make them all have distinct personalities. Or, if this is a bit too radical (what am I saying, of course it is), at least have something about Guinevere’s sister as a villain.

    3. Don’t set the whole thing in England. And absolutely don’t set the whole thing at Camelot. Half of Arthur’s knights are French! Gawain’s family is Scottish! Arthur conquers the Roman Empire! Trap someone in the realm of the fairies! Take the Holy Grail back to the Holy Land! Something!
    4. Don’t make Mordred’s mother Morgan le Fay. These are two of the most interesting villains in the tales. Bringing them together like this makes them less interesting, not more, and diminishes the possibility of other interesting characters (like Mordred’s other mother, who is usually Arthur’s half-sister Morgause or Anna). For that matter, don’t conflate the woman who imprisons Merlin with Morgan either; that’s Vivian or Nimue, and she should also be a kickass character in her own right.
    I could go on and on, but I’d better not. But good stories to mine on might be the wedding of Gawain and Dame Ragnelle (in which Ragnelle is just as loud, boorish, and boozy as Gawain is himself, and using the ending in which Gawain lets her choose for herself rather than makes a choice he thinks she’d like), and Gareth and Lynette (in which Lynette’s sister Lyonesse is an antagonist rather than a damsel in distress, and Gareth’s sidekick can be played by Peter Dinklage pleasepleaseplease).

  • Anonymous

    So DC’s Camelot 3000?

  • Anonymous

    Yes! You can *do* his origin, you can *do* the Grail quest, you can *do* the Saxon war leading up to Mons Badonicus, you can *do* the Mordred cycle, leading to Camalnn… Give them each a movie, give them space to *breathe*.

  • Rose Tyler

    The “RDJ Holmes Is Fun But Obviously Is Not Actually Holmes” argument is one I hear a lot, and it _fascinates_ me. I read the entire 60-story canon, fell in love with Basil Rathbone, fan-gushed at Lyndsay “Dust & Shadow” Faye at NYCC, and visited 221-B Baker Street in London … and NONE of that would have happened without Downey’s movies making me a diehard fan of the character first. Guess I’m doing something wrong. ;-)

  • Elwyne

    Or perhaps you are unusually awesome. ;)

    RDJ Holmes and JLM Holmes – Elementary on CBS – deviate so far from canon, using little more than character names from the stories, that the default in my fan circles is to consider them non-Holmes. However, having given much thought to this topic recently (yeah I’m that gal) I observe that both of these versions of Holmes capture beautifully that which is arguably the true heart of the canon: the friendship between Holmes and Watson.

    So what I said above is actually completely wrong, and you are ‘doing it’ better than any of us. ;)

  • Rose Tyler

    That … that … that is _the nicest thing anybody has ever said to me on the Internet_? Like, I’m pretty sure you actually WIN the Internet now? But like for reals??

    YOU’RE COOL. ;-D

    I am embarrassed to find a stranger’s internet comment so strangely validating. But you are, really, the first person in my 4+ Sherlockian years, online or off, to NOT look horrified at my timid, “Actually, my favorites are Rathbone … Downey, and Miller,” proclamations. So I kind of appreciate it rather a lot.

    I can TOTALLY see Downey’s Holmes not _working_ for somebody, I truly can. With a character this frequently portrayed, everybody’s gonna have those portrayals that work for them and those that don’t. Not liking Downey at Holmes is totes okay. (My dirty secret: Cumberbatch’s Holmes doesn’t work for me, even though he’s an outrageously talented actor and is a joy to watch in the part. It just doesn’t “click” for me. That does not mean it’s not brilliant, of course, or any less authentically “Holmes.” It’s all subjective.) But it always kinda stings when someone basically informs you that you like the character incorrectly, which is why you completely rock for not shutting me down.

    So — you kind of made my day. Thanks for that! I’m afraid I lack the authority to award you the internet, but here is a video of Miller’s Sherlock set to a BNL song, which is pretty close:

    (… I didn’t like “Mists of Avalon” either, and I’m a major Arthurian. I do lots of fandom stuff “wrong.” ;-D)

  • Aeryl

    Oh I love the movie, Keira Knightley’s badass Pictish Guinevere does it for me. And I kinda freaked when I rewatched recently and figured out Stephen Dillane was Merlin under all that blue.

    But yeah, there are several good scenes with Mikkelson and Dancy that make good AU fodder.

  • Marie

    Vivian! I want Vivian/Merlin.

  • Elwyne

    Well gosh we may be new best friends. I feel similarly about BC. Your username is my favorite character OF ALL TIME and your avatar is full of win.

    And that video is much, MUCH better than ‘the internet.’ ;-D

  • Rose Tyler

    You … you aren’t a raging Cumberbatch!Holmes fan AND you love Rose Tyler?? I DID NOT THINK ANOTHER PERSON SUCH AS THIS COULD EXIST. (Certainly not on the Internet. ;-))

    Martha Jones would eventually become my favorite Companion, but, for the first two years that New Who aired, it was Rose, not the Doctor, who was my favorite character in the show. And Rose is still the Companion I relate to most strongly — hence the user name. :) And I adore Star Trek quite a lot.

    If you like Jack Sparrow, Batman, or Loki, I’m pretty sure we’re not just new best friends, but identical twins. ;-)

  • Elwyne

    I would like to upvote this a few million more times. ;)

  • mage_cat

    I hope they pull from some more diverse sources for ideas. They could include Sir Morien ( ) and use him to bring in some original characters of color.

  • Orcrist42

    As long as Tom Hiddleston plays Mordred and Ian McKellen plays Merlin to Patrick Stewart’s Arthur and Chris Hemsworth’s Lancelot, I’ll probably watch at least one of them. Might as well have Sean Connery play Uther as well.

  • Ben English

    Warner Brothers is conducting an experiment to see how many people they can keep out of cinemas.

  • Ben English

    If by new Harry Potter movies you mean new movies based on a JK Rowling book set fifty years before Harry was born, yes.

  • Anonymous

    I had no idea that existed and am now going to find it and read the shit out of it. Thank you.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Still, it not like their retiring the franchise.

  • Dave

    I agree that Arthurian legend is super-Northern European, which is definitely over-represented in fantasy.

    On the other hand, there actually are a bunch of non-white knights of the Round Table. People have mentioned Morien and Palamides (and his two brothers) below, and there’s also Perceval’s brother Feirefiz, who are all described as Moors/Saracens. If you hit up some of the lesser-known tales (which if they’re doing 6 movies, they definitely should) like The Adventure of the Crop-Eared Dog or The Adventures of Melora and Orlando, you have knights from the Middle East, India, and Asia who all come to hang out in Britain. Plus Melora, who becomes a knight and goes on a quest to save her fiance. And on a related note, you can totally add in the Three Amazons of the Island of Britain for some more badass ladies.

    All that plus the fact that as a former Roman province Britain’s population actually was pretty diverse, and you could have a series of movies with pretty good representation.

  • Anonymous

    It’s neat! It is… in some ways a product of its time… But it’s neat!

  • myverysarcasm

    Yes, I dislike most additions that came after Chrètien de Troyes. I especially despise Malory’s Le morte d’Arthur since it has the worst imaginable portrayal of the women in the stor.
    I only like a few modern adaptions from authors like Joan Wolf, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Jane Yolen. Especially Wolf manages to go back to those original legends, leaving out Lancelot, including Bedwyr, having Morgaine be Arthur’s aunt ect.