“The Kid Who Would Be King” isn’t exactly ruling over the box office.
Fox’s family friendly adventure is looking like one of the year’s first big-budget flops after the $60 million movie debuted last weekend with a disastrous $7 million from 3,521 theaters. It’s only January, but “The Kid Who Would Be King” also marks the lowest launch for a wide-release from a major studio in 2019.
Executives at rival studios estimate “The Kid Who Would Be King” could lose around $50 million after taking marketing and production costs into account. Marketing for a family movie tends to be pricer than the average film because studios have to pitch the movie to both kids and their parents. All that advertising can certainly add up.
Other insiders caution that number doesn’t account for home entertainment sales, television licensing pacts, and other ancillary revenues. Those could reduce losses.
Joe Cornish, best-known for writing “The Adventures of Tintin” and Marvel’s “Ant-Man,” directed the fantasy film. It also began its overseas rollout last weekend, earning a paltry $1.9 million for a global start of $10.45 million. Insiders at Fox disputed the $50 million number and remain hopeful that international numbers, especially in the United Kingdom where it has yet to open, will help recoup ticket sales. The film was made in part for the potential of a strong appeal in Europe.
“The Kid Who Would Be King” is the latest adaptation of King Arthur to misfire at the box office. This iteration follows a young boy who discovers the medieval leader’s legendary sword Excalibur and uses it to save the world from attack. It holds surprisingly strong reviews for a movie that saw such low ticket sales, but critical reception rarely sways the target audience for a PG film.
The fantasy movie doesn’t have the benefit of big stars who could have boosted the movie’s profile. Perhaps a few A-listers might have been able to make IP about King Arther seem more appealing to moviegoers. Newcomer Louis Ashbourne Serkis, the son of actor-director Andy Serkis, stars alongside Rebecca Ferguson and Patrick Stewart.
“The Kid Who Would Be King” doesn’t have much breathing room before a handful of titles geared at younger audiences hit theaters. The Super Bowl is this weekend, marking a traditionally slow time of year at multiplexes as audiences opt to plop down in front of their TV sets to watch the big game. The following frame sees the release of Warner Bros.’ “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” and early estimates show the animated sci-fi sequel is heading toward a sizable opening weekend of $55 million.
It only gets more crowded from there as Universal’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” enters the marketplace shortly after. The third “Dragon” entry and “The Lego Movie” sequel both have the added benefit of a glowing critical response. With a slew of wide-releases debuting in February, exhibitors might abandon “The Kid Who Would Be King” sooner rather than later if the movie isn’t able to find an audience. They’ll want to use those screeners for other, more promising releases.
The hit comes as Fox prepares to merge most of its entertainment assets with Disney. Despite last weekend’s miss, the studio is ending its storied run on a high note. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” now nominated for five Academy Awards, has become a financial smash as the Queen biopic has drummed up over $817 million worldwide. The studio also re-released a PG-13 cut of “Deadpool 2” in China, where it launched last weekend with $21.4 million. All that extra cash is just icing on top of a very rich cake since grosses were added to the sum of the superhero sequel’s initial box office run last summer. Ryan Reynold’s Merc With a Mouth is now one of the top-grossing entries in the “X-Men” franchise.