The Kid Who Would Be King
|The Kid Who Would Be King|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joe Cornish|
|Written by||Joe Cornish|
|Music by||Electric Wave Bureau|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$23.3 million|
The Kid Who Would Be King is a 2019 British fantasy adventure film written and directed by Joe Cornish. The film stars Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Tom Taylor, Rebecca Ferguson, and Patrick Stewart. The plot follows a young boy who finds King Arthur's legendary sword Excalibur, and must then use it to stop an ancient enchantress from destroying the world. Distributed by 20th Century Fox, the film was released in the United States on 25 January 2019, and in the United Kingdom on 15 February 2019. It received mostly positive reviews from critics, but was a box office bomb with estimated losses for the studio ranging as high as $50 million.
Alexander "Alex" Elliot is a twelve-year-old boy who is starting a new term at school while struggling to adapt to his new surroundings. When his best friend Bedders is bullied by older students named Lance and Kaye, Alex comes to his aid but ends up in a fight with Lance. Alex, Lance, and Kaye are given detention by the headmistress while she tries to encourage Alex to live up to himself. Meanwhile, Lance and Kaye plot to harm Alex further. That night, the duo chase Alex as he is on his way home but Alex hides in a nearby construction site, where he finds a mysterious sword and removes it from its position. Taking the sword with him, Alex shows it to Bedders, and they discover that its markings identify it as Excalibur, the sword of King Arthur. Alex then playfully "knights" Bedders.
Elsewhere, the wicked sorceress Morgana awakens underground and sends her minions after Excalibur. The next day, a teenager appears from inside Stonehenge and presents himself at Alex's school as a new student. The boy reveals himself to Alex as the wizard Merlin, capable of aging backwards, but is also able to shift between his Arthurian counterpart. Alex plans to return the sword, wanting nothing to do with ancient myths. That night, Merlin saves Alex from a demon and explains that he has four days to destroy Morgana or she will enslave all of England. Morgana's demons can appear only at night and can only be seen by Alex and those he has knighted, but an upcoming total solar eclipse will enable her to emerge fully into the world. Alex realizes that these events parallel an inscribed storybook his estranged father once gave him. Alex concludes he descends from Arthur through his father and later recruits and knights Lance and Kaye, who fight beside Alex and Bedders, defeating three demons. Alex declares them a new Round Table. Merlin soon tasks Alex to find the entrance of Morgana's prison.
Believing his father is the key, Alex leads the group to Tintagel where he last saw his father. En route, Merlin trains them in swordsmanship. But when Morgana infiltrates the lesson, Lance betrays Alex and takes the sword for himself. Merlin barely saves them and Excalibur is broken when Alex and Lance come to blows in a marsh. Alex calls upon the Lady of the Lake who appears and restores the sword. Rededicating themselves to the quest, the four overcome a hoard of demons by luring them over a cliff and arrive at Tintagel. Alex meets his aunt Sophie who tells him that his father was revealed to be an alcoholic, a fundamentally bad person who abandoned Alex's family, and that it was secretly his mother who inscribed the book. Merlin tells Alex that Excalibur is not handed down by birthright, but by individual merit.
Alex and his friends arm themselves and Alex uses the storybook to locate the entrance to the Underworld. Alex challenges Morgana who takes on a monstrous dragon-like creature and breathes fire, but Alex strikes her down and the children escape. Believing Morgana is dead, Alex returns Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake. On the day of the eclipse, Merlin informs Alex that Morgana was merely wounded and Alex realizes that he violated the Chivalric Code by lying to his mother. In desperation, Alex tells her everything that has happened and stuns her by summoning the Lady of the Lake into the bathtub, where he regains Excalibur.
At school, Merlin ensorcells the faculty and Alex knights the entire student body. During the eclipse, Morgana appears with her entire army and now takes on a huge, semi-dragonic form. The children fight back, using strategies combining medieval warfare with modern technology, but ultimately retreat to the rooftop. Merlin casts a magic spell to pull Morgana from the world and Alex decapitates her as she vanishes, dispelling all the demons. Alex, Bedders, Lance, and Kaye bid farewell to Merlin, who encourages them to become leaders.
- Louis Ashbourne Serkis as Alexander "Alex" Elliot
- Dean Chaumoo as Bedders
- Tom Taylor as Lance
- Rhianna Dorris as Kaye
- Rebecca Ferguson as Morgana, an evil sorceress and old enemy of Merlin, her half-brother King Arthur, and all of Camelot.
- Angus Imrie as Merlin, a wizard who was an ally of King Arthur. Because Merlin ages backwards, he has the appearance of a teenager after centuries have passed.
- Denise Gough as Mrs. Elliot, Alex's mother
- Noma Dumezweni as Mrs. Lee
- Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as Mr. Kepler
- Mark Bonnar as Mr. Jeffreys
- Alexandra Roach as Ms. Foster
- Genevieve O'Reilly as Sophie, Alex's aunt
- Nick Mohammed as Mr. Hyde
- Adam Buxton as Stonehenge Tour Guide
Principal photography on the film began on 25 September 2017 in London, and ended in March 2018. The film was shot in Cornwall and at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden. The visual effects were provided by DNEG, Rodeo FX, Peerless and TPO VFX, and were supervised by Joel Green, Antoine Moulineau, Laurent Gillet, Marc Hutchings, Jack Hughes and Frazer Churchill.
As of 19 February 2019[update], The Kid Who Would Be King has grossed $16.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $6.8 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $23.3 million, against a production budget of $59 million.
In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Serenity, and was projected to gross $7–13 million from 3,521 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $1.7 million on its first day and ended up debuting to $7.3 million, finishing fourth at the box office. Following its initial performance, it was announced the film was expected to lose the studios around $50 million, taking into account its high marketing costs. The poor debut of the film was attributed to the medieval subject matter mixed with a modern context, which has had several flops in the past two years including King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and Robin Hood, and the difficulty of promoting a family film based on such material. In its second weekend the film fell 42% to $4.2 million, finishing seventh.
According to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 88% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 128 reviews, and an average rating of 6.9/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Kid Who Would Be King recalls classic all-ages adventures -- and repurposes a timeless legend -- for a thoroughly enjoyable new addition to the family movie canon." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an overall positive score of 71% and a "definite recommend" of 46%.
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