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Entertainment Weekly

Movies

The Kid Who Would Be King: Four movies that influenced Joe Cornish's fantastical tale

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The Kid Who Would Be King (out Jan. 25) offers a fresh take on the legend of King Arthur with Louis Ashbourne Serkis starring as a modern-day teenager who discovers the legendary sword Excalibur on a building site. But writer-director Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) is happy to admit that his film, the idea for which he dreamed up when he himself was still a kid, was influenced by some other movies. The filmmaker discusses those inspirations below…

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

“I saw E.T. on my own in New York, as a child. We went on holiday, and I saw it in a grotty theater just off Times Square, and it hit me between the eyes like a laser beam. I was pretty much the same age as Elliott and I became obsessed with it. I always wondered why no British filmmaker had made a similar film about a wonderful fantastic thing happening in British suburbia.”

Excalibur (1981)

“I saw it when I was a pre-teenager and it had a big impact on me. It was so outrageous, and flamboyant, and gory, and erotic. It felt like a science fiction film, even though it was set in the ancient past. My tiny child’s brain put together those two ideas — the device of the sword-in-the-stone and then the idea of a normal kid in suburbia encountering something fantastic. That is how I thought up the idea for The Kid Who Would Be King.”

Time Bandits (1981)

Time Bandits (directed by Monty Python member Terry Gilliam) was again a pretty rare thing. It was British fantasy-adventure movie. It’s obviously Python-esque but it’s not pure Python. It’s not as completely silly as the Python movies. It has a kid at its center, and it has real jeopardy, and a very brilliant villain that David Warner plays, and a tremendous cameo by Sean Connery, which I thought of when I thought about casting Sir Patrick Stewart as the older Merlin [in The Kid Who Would Be King].”

Explorers (1985)

“That’s a very pure ‘80s kids-adventure movie with a terrific cast. River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke. I met (director) Joe Dante one time, and told him how much I loved it, and he looked really annoyed, and said, ‘Oh, they took that film away from me, they released it before it was finished.’ It’s funny when a film you love is not loved by the director.

“It’s a very simple, pure story, very uncomplicated, with again a really crazy combination of very grounded characters, and then a fantasy plot, and the design of the aliens is really out there at the end. And it’s got a fantastic twist that I won’t spoil for anybody that hasn’t seen it.”

Watch the trailer for The Kid Who Would Be King at the top of the page.

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