Why Netflix Rejected ‘A Knight’s Tale 2’

Why Netflix Rejected ‘A Knight’s Tale 2’

The cult film A Knight’s Tale could have had a sequel, according to the 2001 film’s writer and director, Brian Helgeland. The Oscar-winning screenwriter of L.A. Confidential and Mystic River recently told Inverse that while he already had ideas for a continuation, they were ultimately passed on when pitched for streaming media.

“When we finished A Knight’s Tale, we were already thinking about making the sequel as a pirate film,” Helgeland told the outlet. “The plot revolved around Count Adhemar kidnapping Jocelyn and taking her to Constantinople. They end up as galley slaves after their boat is captured by pirates. There’s a prisoner on the boat who has a treasure map tattooed on his back, but he keeps getting flogged for indiscipline. The guys volunteer to take turns getting flogged in this prisoner’s place, so the map isn’t erased. Sony didn’t want to do it.”

Helgeland added that more recently, “There was another idea pitched to me that was all about William’s daughter. Paul Bettany called me after he had dinner with Alan Tudyk, and the guys had an idea that William had passed away during a war.” 

He continued, “However, William has a teenage daughter who wants to joust, but she’s not allowed to because she’s a woman. She tracks down the gang and they agree to teach her how to joust, but she has to hide who she is. They cut her hair short and she speaks with a deep voice, et cetera.

“I pitched it to Sony because they own the rights, and it seemed like they were interested in making it with Netflix, releasing it as a Netflix movie. My understanding is that Netflix tested this sequel idea through their algorithms, which indicated that it would not be successful. A Knight’s Tale seems to get more popular with every passing year; it’s the strangest thing,” Helgeland said.

A Knight’s Tale follows William Thatcher (played by the late Heath Ledger), a 14th-century peasant who hopes to compete as a knight but is prevented from doing so because he is not a noble. After his master, Sir Ector, dies, he starts competing illegally in tournaments under a false name. Will attempts to make his mark as a noble knight with the help of an unlikely group of friends, and in addition to winning the heart of a beautiful maiden, become Europe’s best jousting sensation.

The film has an all-star cast, including Rufus Sewell, Shannyn Sossamon, Alan Tudyk, Mark Addy, James Purefoy, Laura Fraser, and Paul Bettany. The movie is also famous for its indulgent embrace of various anachronisms, featuring 14th-century courtiers dancing to David Bowie and peasants stomping and clapping to “We Will Rock You.”

While it wasn’t initially a runaway hit, the film has maintained an enduring popularity in the decades since its release. Helgeland told Variety in 2021 that it initially caught him by surprise. “I guess because it’s a strange movie,” he says. “You know, there’s actually a whole group of medievalists who have PhDs and stuff and have written footnoted, scholarly discussions about it.”


Back to top