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We’re Getting a Thousand Robin Hood Movies

Quit asking why and put on your green tights

(Warner Bros.)
(Warner Bros.)

After she’s done playing Tonya Harding, Margot Robbie is going to play Maid Marian, another historical figure who wears goofy costumes and can handle herself in a fight. That news comes via The Hollywood Reporter. Good for Margot; if it takes traveling to the 12th century to find an action movie built around a woman, to medieval England we go. But the good stuff is buried at the bottom:

This is hilarious. It’s also incomplete. As the good folks at Slashfilm point out, assorted Hollywood shingles are also cooking up the following gritty returns to Sherwood Forest: Hood, which Sony acquired to (deep breath) kick-start a shared Robin Hood universe; Nottingham & Hood, positioned as Disney’s franchise follow-up to Pirates of the Caribbean; Merry Men, a seemingly abandoned heist movie; and a barely-commented-on Robin Hood project at Warner Bros.

Gather your bows and arrows, punks, because The Great Robin Hood Arms Race is on. Been on, really: it kicked up in 2011 — right after Ridley Scott’s Russell Crowe–starring, muddy-as-hell Robin Hood was released in 2010.

“Do we really need 15 Robin Hood movies?” is a very good question that I’m going to shoot a bunch of arrows at, John Wick–style. So let’s skip ahead and presume that the Hawkeye of the Middle Ages deserves multiple franchises. The Guy Ritchie coaching tree’s gotta eat. The why of it all, though? The whys are as plentiful as they are unsatisfying. Robin Hood has name recognition, catnip for studios starved for IP. He’s in the public domain, which means nobody has to pay Sony an arm and a leg to finally fold him into a pre-existing movie universe. His robs-from-the-rich stance is perfectly suited for the present political moment. But the biggest reason we’re getting a half-dozen movies about a dude in a weird hat (I know we used to laugh at the tights, but c’mon, the hat is the bad thing here) is probably the simplest one: running a Hollywood studio is a high-risk proposition. It pays to be safe. And the safest thing to do is to see what’s working, and then do that. So you get an arms race — like we did over Steve Prefontaine, Howard Hughes, and (perhaps most instructive in this case) Sherlock Holmes.

I’ll lay my cards on the table here: I will pay for a ticket to two different Robin Hood movies. I’m not proud of it, but I’m trying to live my truth here. The Egerton-Foxx film is the only project with an actual release date, tagged for spring 2018. They’ve basically already got my money. (Ben Mendelsohn as the Sheriff of Nottingham! I am literally the reason movies are dying!) Which means the rest of you knuckleheads have a little more than a year to dig into my embarrassingly wide-open wallet. Of course, Robin Hood has been done before. So a word of advice: Come at the king, you best not miss.