Netflix Passed on ‘A Knight’s Tale 2’ After Algorithm Showed It Wouldn’t Succeed, Director Says

Is blaming “the algorithm” the new way to say no in Hollywood?

Heath Ledger and Paul Bettany in "A Knight's Tale"
Heath Ledger and Paul Bettany in "A Knight's Tale" (CREDIT: Sony Pictures)

A potential sequel to “A Knight’s Tale,” the 2001 period comedy that starred the late Heath Ledger as an aspiring knight, was killed by the Netflix algorithm, according to director Brian Helgeland.

“I pitched it to Sony because they own the rights, and it seemed like they were interested in making it with Netflix and releasing it as a Netflix movie,” the original film’s writer-director told Inverse in an interview published Monday. “My understanding is that Netflix tested this sequel idea through their algorithms, which indicated that it would not be successful.”

He said he was surprised at that, because “‘A Knight’s Tale’ seems to get more popular with every passing year; it’s the strangest thing.”

Helgeland’s idea was to make a pirate sequel right after the first film wrapped, he said, detailing the proposed plot.

“The plot revolved around Count Adhemar [Rufus Sewell] kidnapping Jocelyn [Shannyn Sossamon] and taking her to Constantinople,” Helgeland said. “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.”

But at the time, Sony wasn’t interested.

Cast members Paul Bettany and Alan Tudyk also thought of a way to continue the film without lead Ledger, who died in 2008: Kill off his character William and make it about his daughter, according to Helgeland.

“William has a teenage daughter who wants to joust,” he elaborated, “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.”

Sony executives seemed interested in the renewed project and working on it with Netflix — until they handed it to the Netflix algorithm, according to Helgeland.

As screenwriter Brenden Gallagher noted on X, blaming analytics instead of suits may be the new way to turn down a project.

“A screenwriter is saying he was told that they didn’t move forward with the film because of the algorithm but we all imagine that, for example, the algorithm did not predict ‘The Irishman’ or ‘Bardo’ would be a hit. To some extent, the algorithm is easier than, ‘We don’t want to,’” Gallagher wrote.

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