2010 Preview: Robin Hood

by Ray Subers
Russell Crowe in Robin Hood

January 22, 2010

Release Date: May 14
Studio: Universal
Genre: Period Adventure
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Brian Helgeland and Ethan Reiff & Cyrus Voris
Cast: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong, Kevin Durand, Matthew Macfadyen, William Hurt, Max von Sydow
Studio Description: Robin Hood chronicles the life of an expert archer, previously interested only in self-preservation, from his service in King Richard's army against the French. Upon Richard's death, Robin travels to Nottingham, a town suffering from the corruption of a despotic sheriff and crippling taxation, where he falls for the spirited widow Lady Marion (Oscar winner Cate Blanchett), a woman skeptical of the identity and motivations of this crusader from the forest. Hoping to earn the hand of Maid Marion and salvage the village, Robin assembles a gang whose lethal mercenary skills are matched only by its appetite for life. Together, they begin preying on the indulgent upper class to correct injustices under the sheriff. With their country weakened from decades of war, embattled from the ineffective rule of the new king and vulnerable to insurgencies from within and threats from afar, Robin and his men heed a call to ever greater adventure. This unlikeliest of heroes and his allies set off to protect their country from slipping into bloody civil war and return glory to England once more.
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Analysis: Ten years ago, director Ridley Scott and actor Russell Crowe revived the sword-and-sandal epic with Gladiator, which grossed $187.7 million, and Mr. Scott's last three pictures starred Mr. Crowe: A Good Year in 2006, American Gangster in 2007 and Body of Lies in 2008. Now they reunite for a re-imagining of one of the most famous characters of all-time, Robin Hood.

Spoof Robin Hood: Men in Tights aside, the last straightforward, theatrical Robin Hood was Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1991, which grossed a rousing $165.5 million, or the equivalent of around $290 million adjusted for ticket price inflation. Back in 1991, Kevin Costner, fresh off Dances with Wolves, was a bigger draw than Mr. Crowe is today, who is coming off of two under-$40 million grossers in State of Play and Body of Lies.

In its trailer, Robin Hood is sold as a gritty historical epic as if it were Gladiator set in the Middle Ages. Movies set in the Middles Ages, though, frequently struggle at the box office, with the exceptions of Robin Hood 1991 and Braveheart. King Arthur, an attempt to re-imagine the Camelot legend, disappointed with a $51.9 million gross in 2004, while Kingdom of Heaven followed suit in 2005 with only $47.4 million. This type of picture tends to appeal mostly to adult men, and the new Robin Hood appears to be on the same tract, unlike the 1991 version's explicit targeting of women (replete with Bryan Adams ballad), emphasizing the Gladiator connection more than anything. Gladiator, though, was the first big movie of its summer. Robin Hood opens in the wake of Iron Man 2, and the second big movie of the summer often stumbles. That means Robin Hood may have an uphill battle, but Mr. Scott and Mr. Crowe have beaten the odds before with Gladiator.

Similar Movies: Gladiator, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, King Arthur, Kingdom of Heaven, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Braveheart

Related Charts: Adventure-Period; Medieval Times; Swashbuckler

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'Kingdom' of Limbo, 'House' of Lax

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2010 Preview

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