The latest movie in the Kingsman franchise, The King’s Man failed to generate as much buzz as its predecessors and bombed at the box office. Falling well behind expectations, it made a staggeringly low $10 million in its five-day debut, and its underperformance has left audiences questioning if this is the start of the end for the action-drama series; has the movie jeopardized future sequels?
Directed by Matthew Vaughn but featuring an all-new cast, The King’s Man is the third installment in the franchise and acts as a prequel to the commercially successful first, Kingsman: The Secret Service. Focusing on how the spy agency came to be, it is an origin story told against the backdrop of WWI. At the center of the movie is Orlando Oxford (also known as The Duke of Oxford), founder of the independent intelligence agency played by Ralph Fiennes. Once a pacifist, Oxford sought to create the spy network which fights against terrorism after witnessing his wife’s murder. With the help of trigger-happy Polly Wilkins (Gemma Arterton) and expert combatant Shola (Djimon Honsou), he establishes the Kingsman which outlives both him and his son Conrad Oxford (Harris Dickenson), a proto-Kingsman who meets his end in The King’s Man carrying out his father’s mission.
Released in US theatres on 22 December, The King’s Man was met with strong competition from Spider-Man: No Way Home and The Matrix Resurrections — both major motion pictures that target the same older male demographic as Kingsman. Of these choices, Spider-Man won the popular vote with audiences, earning a record-breaking $138.6 million in its five-day debut (over 10 times what The King’s Man made). This, paired with the fact that older moviegoers tend to avoid theatres amidst the ongoing pandemic, is to say that The King’s Man was doomed from the outset, if not dead on arrival.
Scheduled for release in November 2019, the movie was delayed many times before hitting the big screen. For the audience that’s 25 months of hoping, waiting, and potentially forgetting about the movie entirely. If there was buzz to begin with, it had surely worn off by the time The King’s Man finally got its premiere. And whilst the producers couldn’t have foreseen a global pandemic getting in the way, they might’ve predicted some detachment from the audience given the all-new cast.
An oft-repeated criticism of the movie is that it isn’t anything like the others; this is due in part to there being no Eggsy (Taron Egerton) or Harry (Colin Firth) in the prequel. Though necessary to the plot — The King’s Man is set a century behind the others — it seems this was a fatal mistake, nonetheless. Kingsman succeeded in making cheeky Eggsy and charming Harry fast fan-favourites, to the detriment of its recent movie: “if they won’t be in it, what’s the point?” was the general attitude towards The King’s Man.
Though some praised the new casts’ performances, most agreed these characters were no match for their predecessors (or successors if going by Kingsman‘s timeline). Like the movie itself, they simply weren’t as funny or entertaining. Rather, The King’s Man is a tonal mess, and this is reflected in the movies’ mixed reviews. Half comedy, half war movie, audiences were split. Whilst some enjoyed The King’s Man‘s delve into history and celebrated the more emotional moments it had to offer, others argued it wasn’t what they signed up for — that being, violent fun. As it stands, the movie has a score of 42% on Rotten Tomatoes; this is considerably lower than the first Kingsman movie (75%) and slightly below the second (Kingsman: The Golden Circle, 51%).
Given the franchise’s slow decline, the question on everyone’s mind is: has the Kingsman series run its course? To audiences, yes, maybe, but to Marv studios/Matthew Vaughn, no. Kingsman 3 is already in development and set to begin production in September of next year. Little is known about the upcoming movie (reportedly titled Kingsman: The Blue Blood) besides it being a sequel to Golden Circle. Because of this, Egerton and Firth will return as the main characters, with Vaughn teasing that the movie will delve deeper into their relationship; as he tells Collider, “I saw how people loved the relationship of Eggsy and Harry. So we just came up with this thing, what could be the ultimate reason for them to either fall in love or to hate each other forever? So that’s what this movie is all about is will they or won’t they.”
It looks like Kingsman 3 won’t be the last either. Back in 2020 Deadline reported Marv Studios and Vaughn are plotting seven more Kingsman movies, and a TV series to boot. Additionally, Marv Group CEO Zygi Kamasa teased several other franchises are being developed alongside the Kingsman universe. If these plans go ahead, audiences could be seeing a lot more of the spy organization, whether they want to or not.
The King’s Man is in theatres now.
The new series will air on Fuji TV’s Noitamina programming block sometime next year.
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