The Kid Who Would Be King Trailer

The Kid Who Would Be King has been a long time coming for writer-director Joe Cornish. Not only because it’s been seven long years since his feature directorial debut, Attack the Block, left us eager and hungry to see his sophomore effort, but also because he thought of the Arthurian story in his teens. After waiting so long to tell his original story, Cornish ended up bringing a tangible and infectious excitement to the movie’s playful sense of adventure, similar to Attack the Block.

The Kid Who Would Be King is a modernization with a refreshing absence of irony and a complete feeling of sincerity. It’s a kind-hearted kids movie from Cornish that takes its kids and where their story goes very seriously, reminiscent of Spielberg and John Hughes in some ways. The movie wears some of its influences on its sleeve, as Cornish recently told us over the phone. The director also looked back on the release of Attack the Block, as well as talked about Led Zeppelin and the wonderment of John Boorman’s Excalibur.

You had the idea for the movie when you were a kid, is that correct?

That is correct. When I was 12 or 13 years old, when I saw E.T. and John Boorman’s Excalibur in the same year. This strange meld of emotional sweetness and medieval brutality, and yeah, it gave me the idea to do a kind of high concept movie about a normal school kid who found Excalibur. So, it’s been festering in my brain for many years.

Was there a specific moment in time where you thought you finally had to get it made?

I guess after Attack the Block, I had all sorts of opportunities and I sort of dabbled with various big budget projects that I was flattered to be approached about. And I found myself a little bit too cautious to do something on a much bigger scale that wasn’t mine. So, it took me a little while, but eventually, I figured if I have an opportunity to do something with a bigger budget, why not do something that’s really close to my heart. And, even though this movie is for different audience, it’s for a younger audience than Attack the Block. Attack the Block was really a movie for adults and teenagers versus a movie for kids. I thought, you know, it’s best to do something that comes from the heart rather than something that’s a career move.

Even though you were cautious about those big budget projects, was there a lot of temptation to take one of those jobs or maybe any pressure from people around you saying you should do them?

Well there was no pressure really, just I suppose the feeling of whether I was crazy, whether these things were amazing opportunities and whether I was denying myself an adventure I guess. But I had the refuge of Ant-Man to take with Edgar, because we’d been writing on that thing since before Attack the Block and after Attack the Block came out, we were both still writing on it. So, I worked with him, I wrote the screenplay for Snow Crash and attached myself to a movie called, Rust. I just kept various projects ticking along with Ant-Man kind of being my full time job.

And I guess I stepped out of the circuit for a bit and did observe other directors taking on big projects and sometimes it’s a huge success, but more often than not, it can be tricky for people because they have the reputation, but not necessarily the authority if it’s a big brand, then it’s always the brand that’s in charge. So, you know, it’s a gamble taking one of those big movies and I felt it would be better to get a bit more experience under my belt before I did something like that.

Does making a movie like The Kid Who Would Be King feel like a gamble to you too?

Yeah, making any movie is a gamble. So yeah, no, absolutely. I think all you can do is do your best to make as good a film as you possibly can for the audience you’re aiming at, and then hope that it connects. The truth is, Attack the Block didn’t connect immediately. There were a lot of very mixed reviews. Some people found it outrageous that I was in their words, “glorifying criminals.” Some people really didn’t like it. And it didn’t get terrific distribution. It really found its audience in home video and on streaming. Everybody said to me know, that movie was such a success, but the truth is, it took awhile, you know.

And the nice thing about movies is they stick around. The opening weekend isn’t the be all and end all right? They have long legs and people sometimes really feel they belong to them over a longer period of time. So, oh I’ve waffled on for so long, I’ve forgotten what the question was. But yes, so everything’s a gamble. All you can do is make the best film you possibly can I think.
Jack: It’s funny hearing about, all that about Attack the Block is like you said, I think nobody talks about those things anymore. It only gets talked about it’s a great movie and I feel like … It feels like that’s how time always serves movies like that, that just have an audience.

Like you said, how the movie was distributed and received at the time, it wasn’t quite what you were hoping for, but how did you feel as a filmmaker about how well the movie turned out? 

Well, it was really rewarding. I feel it really found it’s audience and some people kind of were a bit freaked out by it. It’s unusual to start the movie with a protagonist robbing a nurse and then expect the audience to go on this journey with them. It’s a risky way to start the film and it’s a challenge, but you know the vast majority of people understood what the story was trying to do and really engaged with it. You know, really more so in America actually, because I think American audiences and American film fans have an understanding of genre. And understood really the type of movie it was. But no, it’s always really fantastic when you hear from people who loved the movie. But yeah, it did take a while, it did take a while also for me to be comforted that it had found that audience.

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