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||$32.1 million|
The Kid Who Would Be King is a 2019 fantasy adventure film written and directed by Joe Cornish. A British-American venture, 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. Despite receiving positive reviews, the movie failed at the box office with estimated losses for the studio ranging as high as $50 million. It was also the second-to-last film to be released by 20th Century Fox before The Walt Disney Company took control of the studio as part of their acquisition of 21st Century Fox on March 20, 2019.
Alex 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 chases 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 of Mortes Milles 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 destroyed when Alex and Lance come to blows in a marsh, nearly disbanding Lance and Kaye from the group as a result. Alex calls upon the Lady of the Lake who appears and restores the sword.
Resolving their differences and rededicating themselves to the quest, the four overcome a horde of demons by luring them over a cliff and arrive at Tintagel. Alex meets his aunt Sophie who tells him that his father was an alcoholic who abandoned Alex's family, and that it was secretly his mother who inscribed the book. Alex is enraged to discover that not only has he come a long way for nothing but also that his mother had lied to him about the book, and he starts to hate her for that. 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 form 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 knowing that if he was caught with it back at home the police would confiscate it. 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. His mother reveals her own lie that she never told him the truth about his father or the book, because if he had known the truth to begin with, it would've hurt him. Eventually, he stuns her by summoning the Lady of the Lake into the bathtub, where he regains Excalibur. At the school, Merlin enchants 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 draconic 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 with Alex once again returning the sword to the Lady of the Lake.
- Louis Serkis as Alex
- Dean Chaumoo as Bedders
- Tom Taylor as Lance
- Rhianna Doris as Kaye
- Patrick Stewart as Old Merlin
- Angus Imrie as Young Merlin
- Rebecca Ferguson as Morgana
- Denise Gough as Mary, 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.
The Kid Who Would Be King grossed $16.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $15.4 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $32.1 million, against a production budget of $59 million. In the United States and Canada, the film opened in 3,521 theaters, grossing $7.3 million in its opening weekend, finishing fourth at the box office. The film opened on #7 when it was released in the United Kingdom.
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.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 90% approval rating based on 181 reviews, with an average rating of 6.84/10. 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 66 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
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