This article contains some The King’s Man spoilers.
By the time The King’s Man rolled credits late last year, more than a century’s worth of lore and internal mythology had been established in the three-film franchise. From the Kingsman spy syndicate’s earliest origins during the Second Boer War in 1902 to that time Eggsy, aka Agent Galahad, rescued Elton John in 2017, there’s now a vast timeline of adventures, world-saving hail marys, and espionage double crosses littered throughout world history.
That’s pretty impressive for a franchise that writer-director Matthew Vaughn started as a riff on early James Bond flicks, as well as the many copycats who followed during the Spymania craze of the 1960s.
And in an ideal world, this would just be the tip of the iceberg for Vaughn, who has imagined a massive Kingsman shared universe. But what that would actually look like now, and how it could still happen after The King’s Man’s disastrous box office last year, remains in flux. Even so, here is what we know about the franchise’s proposed future, and why The King’s Man’s underperformance isn’t necessarily the end of the road.
Matthew Vaughn has always wanted to make a traditional third Kingsman movie which would see stars Taron Egerton and Colin Firth return for one last ride. Vaughn hasn’t been shy about that fact, as he admits he was originally planning to make that movie before the idea of a Kingsman prequel set in World War I—or “The Man Who Would Be Kingsman” as he exclusively told Den of Geek—popped into his head.
Hence while speaking with other outlets, Vaughn revealed he hoped to film Kingsman 3 as soon as late 2022.
“In a perfect world, we will do Kingsman 3 next year,” Vaughn told THR last December, “which is the conclusion of the Eggsy-Harry relationship. It’s all ready to go. COVID has slowed us down a bit, but we’re ready to shoot next year.”
With that said, it’s not entirely clear if Vaughn would helm the threequel that would return to the 21st century. While he’s directed all three existing Kingsman movies, the filmmaker has traditionally been skittish about franchises, passing on doing both sequels to X-Men: First Class and Kick-Ass. He also is currently finishing an entire new franchise launch with Argylle, an action movie that will star Henry Cavill, Bryce Dallas Howard, and John Cena.
In a separate interview with The Wrap, Vaughn said, “I haven’t decided [if I’m directing]. Are you asking me whether I want to direct right now while I’m finishing Argylle off, literally today… Not the time to ask someone whether they want to direct or not. At the moment, I don’t know. I mean, yeah. Give me a couple of months. Maybe.”
The King’s Man 2 and Other Spinoffs
With that said, The King’s Man also ends with a setup for more movies set in the early and mid 20th century. At the film’s conclusion, Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) has officially formed the secret Kingsman organization, complete with teased new faces like Aaron Taylor-Johnson as his Agent Lancelot and Gemma Arterton as Agent Galahad. There’s even a shocking post-credits scene that reveals in the Kingsman universe, Adolf Hitler was already scheming for world domination alongside the remnants of the SPECTRE-like organization from The King’s Man.
Could we see a sequel (or two) set during World War II. That’s also the original plan. In the aforementioned THR interview, Vaughn even revealed the next movie would take place in the 1920s during the first decade of the Kingsman organization in operation. Perhaps they would even have a hand in thwarting Hitler’s first grasp toward power in Munich in 1923?
“We would love to do a sequel to The King’s Man,” Vaughn said about the franchise post-Kingsman 3, “which will be about the first decade of the Kingsman agency with our characters that you see at the end of this.”
He further reveals he still would like to make a TV series based around the cowboy spies, personified by Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, and Pedro Pascal in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
Said Vaughn, “If we get that far with these two, then maybe we spin off Statesman as a TV show. I loved Loki, but we don’t want to get too greedy or too arrogant to think we can make loads and loads of these.”
The King’s Man Falls
Of course all of these interviews were given before The King’s Man’s anemic box office debut. The film opened with a meager $5 million and in fourth place during its grisly Christmas weekend in 2021, falling behind Spider-Man: No Way Home in its second weekend, as well as the openings of Sing 2 and The Matrix Resurrections. Ironically, Sing 2 starred the vocal talents of Egerton. Equally as disappointing is the film’s overall U.S. gross of just $37.1 million, which contributed to the film’s relatively small $124.1 million overall global cume.
For contrast, both of the previous two Kingsman movies cleared $100 million domestically, with the first crossing $414 million worldwide and the second almost matching it identically with $411 million. So in a vacuum, it would seem interest in the franchise dipped significantly for the prequel, which was also the worst reviewed of the three movies (although we’d personally argue it was a big step up over The Golden Circle).
Of course the movie was not released in a vacuum. In fact, The King’s Man was arguably one of several victims of studio politics which happened way above the spy organization’s purview. This began when Disney first delayed the prequel from its original November 2019 release date so as to make more space for its own content. This was due to the fact that The King’s Man, like all the movies in this franchise, was greenlit by 20th Century Fox. But by the time the movie was completed, Fox ceased to exist, being subsumed by Disney, which from an outside perspective seems to have little interest in marketing and releasing R-rated Fox films not based on a highly popular IP (say your Alien or Predator franchises, which are both in current development at the rechristened 20th Century Studios).
After the pandemic struck, The King’s Man was moved numerous times around the 2020 and 2021 movie calendars before Disney finally decided to dump it on a Christmas weekend when it would be obviously overshadowed by Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home—a franchise film Disney had a significant financial stake in because of the Marvel Studios connection.
As with the choice to release the Fox-approved The Last Duel right between adult-skewing action franchises No Time to Die and Dune, and opposite the seasonal event film Halloween Kills, it would seem The King’s Man was sent out to die. And since its franchise has historically been a Fox (and thereby a now Disney) property, that’s the end of the story, right?
The Kingsman Rises?
The rare thing about the Kingsman franchise is that even though it was set up at Fox, the studio which in 2014 had recent success with Vaughn due to his contributions to the X-Men franchise, the company never actually owned the intellectual property. As with Kick-Ass before it, Vaughn retains the movie rights to this series via his production company MARV Studios.
“The bottom line is MARV does own Kingsman,” Vaughn told Collider last year. “I’ve been financing all my movies for a long time purely because I find it easier… You get to a point where you make profits and then you make money in life. And then, when you make money in life, all these people come up to you and say, ‘Can we have your money to make money out of your money?’ They’re rather scary suit type people. I was like, ‘You know what? I don’t want to give you people my money.’”
So Vaughn has the ability to either make more Kingsman movies with Disney/20th Century Studios… or not.
“In about four weeks, we’ll be sitting down, talking about whether they want to make Kingsman 3 with me,” Vaughn also told Collider in December. “They get first dibs.”
Given the poor box office of The King’s Man—as well as the poor rollout executed after the studio acquired new owners—we imagine that conversation did not go well. And yet, Vaughn could take his once lucrative franchise and find someone else still willing to invest in it.
Netflix has made a boom industry out of releasing new installments to once popular franchises exclusively on streaming. And Vaughn is already making his first foray into the streaming world via the pricey $200 million deal for the forthcoming Argylle on Apple TV+. So it isn’t that hard to imagine either streamer, or another like Amazon, for instance, being open to finding a negotiable price point for a Kingsman 3. Granted, whether the actors who led two box office hits in this series would want to pivot toward starring in a streaming franchise is another story, but anything is possible.
Still, given the poor box office performance and extended two-year delay, we would assume we’ve seen the last of Orlando Oxford and the early days of being The King’s Man. Then again, you know what they say about assumptions…