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The Green Knight Release Date, Cast And Plot - What We Know So Far

Since its formation less than a decade ago, A24 has transformed itself from the little indie production and distribution house that could into a major presence in the Hollywood landscape — not to mention a regular player in the awards season rumpus. The company achieved this by taking a swing-for-the-fences approach to indie cinema, releasing some of the riskiest, most exciting, and most disturbing films of the past decade – like modern horror masterworks "The Witch" and "Hereditary," heartfelt dramas Lady Bird and Moonlight, and more left-of-center fare such as "Under the Skin" and "A Ghost Story."

Speaking of "A Ghost Story," A24 has built a strong working relationship with director David Lowery (as well as a number of other indie filmmakers). The company re-teamed with Lowery for what may be his — and 2021's — most ambitious project yet: "The Green Knight," an adaptation of the famous Arthurian tale "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight."

If you're at all familiar with that mind-blowing tale — or Lowery's distinctive cinematic style — you're probably beyond stoked to get a look A24's "The Green Knight." If not, trust us when we say you should be. Here's everything we know about the film so far.

Getting The Green Knight off the ground

David Lowery has been in the entertainment biz for nearly three decades now — doing everything from acting (his first credit was in the 2002 film "Happy Birthday") and editing (for films like "Ciao," "Sun Don't Shine," "Upstream Color," and "Listen Up Philip") to working as a second unit director and a cinematographer and executive-producing films to, of course, writing and directing his own movies. His feature directorial debut came in 2009 with the release of "St. Nick," and from there, Lowery has written and directed a handful of films including "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," "Pete's Dragon," "A Ghost Story," and "The Old Man & the Gun." He's also attached as the co-writer and director of 2022's live-action "Peter Pan & Wendy" film, per Variety.

Basically, Lowery is a powerhouse in Hollywood, so it makes sense that following the sweeping critical success of 2017's "A Ghost Story" (via Rotten Tomatoes), A24 wanted to recreate the magic. In November 2018, Deadline announced that A24 had partnered with Lowery for "The Green Knight," described as "a fantasy epic retelling" of the 14th-century chivalric romance "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" written by an anonymous author known as "Gawain Poet" (or, less commonly, "Pearl Poet").

A24 tapped Ley Line Entertainment and Bron Studios to co-finance the film, which was made on a very low budget, per Entertainment Weekly, though exact numbers aren't available publicly as of this writing. Lowery's Sailor Bear banner is on board as producer.

What's the plot of The Green Knight?

At this point, you've heard "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" tossed around a couple of times, and if you don't already know what it's all about, you might understandably be a bit confused. Without spoiling any of the big reveals — and trust us, there are some major ones in this story — here's an abridged plot summary of the 14th-century tale.

"Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" centers around King Arthur's erstwhile nephew Sir Gawain, a largely untested knight of Camelot's famed Round Table. Sir Gawain unexpectedly accepts a life-or-death challenge from the monstrous titular Green Knight: A challenger may attempt to strike the Green Knight, but must again face the Green Knight a year later. Sir Gawain beheads the Green Knight, then embarks on a sprawling, mind-melting journey to honor his side of the deal. Along the way, "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" becomes an "Odyssey"-styled epic as Sir Gawain's honor, valor, and mettle are repeatedly proclaimed, questioned, and tested.

Again, there's a lot more going on within the narrative that "The Green Knight" is sure to unravel on the big screen, but delving too much into the plot would spoil things. If you want to get all the nitty-gritty details, hold out for what David Lowery and A24 are offering in "The Green Knight."

Unexpected influences behind The Green Knight

David Lowery's "The Green Knight" is actually the third film adaptation of "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," coming after 1973's "Gawain and the Green Knight" and 1984's "Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," both written and directed by Stephen Weeks. In the first movie, Murray Head played Gawain and Nigel Green portrayed the Green Knight; in the second, Miles O'Keeffe was Sir Gawain and Sean Connery was the Green Knight. Although the film uses a centuries-old piece of literature as its source material and follows after two other films that did the exact same thing, "The Green Knight" promises to breathe new life into the tale — and not just because the R-rated film will feature "violence, some sexuality, and graphic nudity" (via Collider).

When crafting "The Green Knight," Lowery found inspiration in fantasy movies from the 1980s, horror flicks, the works of William Shakespeare, and more. As he told Entertainment Weekly in an exclusive interview, "In terms of visual references, we looked at everything from 'Andrei Rublev,' which is, I think, one of the greatest movies ever made, and which you could never make now. ... We looked at 'Willow,' the Ron Howard film, which is one of my favorite fantasy films of all time. We looked at a lot of '80s fantasy, to be honest, like 'Ladyhawke' and 'Dragonslayer' and 'Willow.'"

Lowery was also influenced by the works of Hammer Film Productions, a seven-hour-long "Russian adaptation of 'War and Peace'" from the 1960s that had recently been restored just as "The Green Knight" began pre-production, Kenneth Branagh's "Henry V," and tons of Shakespeare classics. 

The filmmaker affirmed that "The Green Knight" is "completely a fantasy," and that there's "no historical accuracy to the film whatsoever." So for all you history buffs out there, maybe wait to see the movie until its available on streaming, as you might have trouble keeping yourself from yelling at the screen in theaters.

Who's in the cast of The Green Knight?

When "The Green Knight" does battle with some of 2021's biggest movies (and the mammoth promotional budgets of the major studios who produced them), it'll do so with a first-rate cast. 

At the head of the pack playing Sir Gawain is Oscar-nominated actor Dev Patel, who has received praise and accolades in droves for his turns in "Slumdog Millionaire," "Chappie," "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," "The Man Who Knew Infinity," "The Personal History of David Copperfield," and more. Per Variety, Patel joined the cast of "The Green Knight" in March 2019. That same month, Ralph Ineson's casting was announced, confirming his role as the Green Knight (via Deadline). Viewers may recognize Ineson from his work as Amycus Carrow in three of the eight "Harry Potter" movies, Chris Finch in the U.K. version of "The Office," Nikolai Tarakanov in HBO's "Chernobyl" miniseries, or William in "The Witch."

Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander joins the leading duo as Lady Bertilak, the wife of Lord Bertilak de Hautdesert, played in "The Green Knight" by prolific Australian actor Joel Edgerton. Rounding out the cast are Sean Harris as King Arthur, Kate Dickie as Queen Guinevere, "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" star Erin Kellyman as Winfred, Sarita Choudhury as Mother, and Barry Keoghan as Scavenger.

Filming The Green Knight

The Irish Film & Television Network reported that production on "The Green Knight" kicked off in March 2019, and listed two of the movie's filming locations: Ardmore Studios in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland; and Cahir Castle, located in County Tipperary, Ireland. Films like 1974's bizarre sci-fi fantasy "Zardoz," 1995's legendary historical war epic "Braveheart," 2004's "King Arthur," and 2012's "Byzantium" have filmed at Ardmore Studios, as have the television series "The Tudors," "Penny Dreadful," "Camelot," "Into the Badlands," "Reign," and the Irish version of "Dancing with the Stars." As for Cahir Castle, it's been used for projects like 1981's "Excalibur" and the 2007-2010 series "The Tudors."

According to HN Entertainment, acclaimed New Zealand-based digital visual effects company Weta Digital spearheaded the effects for "The Green Knight." Weta Digital's Eric Saindon told the outlet in April 2019, "[We're] back on the 'Avatar' movies now, [and] we're even doing a project with David Lowery called 'Green Knight,' which is another fun project and just something on the opposite end of the budget of 'Avatar,' but still another fun script."

In a chat with Entertainment Weekly, David Lowery gushed about the experience of filming "The Green Knight." He told the outlet, "We had one day [that] was one of the most fun days that I've ever had on set. ... It just felt like, I'm here in Ireland with my friends, making on of the coolest movies we could ever possibly make." Lowery did end up getting "really sick" during filming, which was a "nightmare," but he powered through.

The Green Knight suffered a significant delay

Once "The Green Knight" completed principal photography, the next order of business was post-production en route to a festival debut and then a formal theatrical release. On March 2, 2020, Deadline announced that "The Green Knight" would make its world premiere at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival on Friday, March 16 ahead of its theatrical launch on Friday, May 29. As everyone not living under a rock knows, March 2020 was the time when the novel coronavirus was spreading rapidly across the globe, beginning to take hold in the U.S. especially. Deadline affirmed at the time that "despite industry panic about the coronavirus, SXSW is indeed moving forward," and that organizers were taking necessary precautions to make the festival as safe as possible.

What could go wrong, right? Well, a lot. "The Green Knight" was a mere two weeks away from its SXSW debut, but four days after Deadline's report, the festival organizers announced that the event was canceled (via SXSW.com). The film also lost its May 29, 2020 release date as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down theaters, and A24 kept "The Green Knight" in limbo for months until it finally set a new debut date.

What's the release date for The Green Knight?

In December 2020, seven months after the minds behind "The Green Knight" had their dreams dashed following the cancellation of 2020's South by Southwest, A24 went public with its new game plan: The movie would become an unlikely summer blockbuster, debuting in theaters (but not at any sort of festival prior) on July 30, 2021 (via Collider). Crunching the numbers quickly, that works out to a 16-and-a-half-month delay from the time those in the public were originally meant to see "The Green Knight" and when it's actually going to open wide, and a 14-month gap between the film's initial release date and its updated release date. 

With such a stacked cast and a story filled with mystery and intrigue, though, "The Green Knight" is sure to blow everyone away when it at long last hits silver screens this summer. As the old adage goes, good things come to those who wait.

The Green Knight's teaser and full-length trailer

A24 has released two trailers for "The Green Knight" thus far: a teaser trailer, clocking in at just over a minute and 30 seconds, and a full-length trailer that runs for 2 minutes and 25 seconds.

Published to the A24 YouTube channel in February 2020, the "Green Knight" teaser opens on a striking shot of Dev Patel's Sir Gawain clothed in gold-colored robes and sitting on a throne, holding a scepter in one hand and an orb in another. The camera holds steady on Sir Gawain as words in blood-red text appear on screen: "In a time when honor was everything, when courage made kings..." Before viewers can learn the words that follow, Sir Gawain's head bursts into flames, and the footage moves to show children gathered around in a group, a shot of Gawain kneeling before King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, and a mysterious spinning calendar illustrating the seasons in a year. King Arthur asks Sir Gawain to tell him a heroic tale of himself, but Gawain says that he has none to tell. Queen Guinevere notes that Sir Gawain will have a story to share soon: "You have none to tell yet." The rest of the teaser offers glimpses into Gawain's life-changing adventure, hinting that danger, fear, death, giants, blood, and foxes will be involved. It closes on the standoff between Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

The full-length trailer for "The Green Knight," which dropped on May 11, offers much more in the way of the film's core narrative, but avoids spoiling anything by revealing too much information. King Arthur requests that someone at the Round Table regale him and Queen Guinevere with a myth or a tale. Enter the Green Knight, who asks King Arthur to "indulge" him in a game: have one of the Knights of the Round Table attempt to land a blow against him. Sir Gawain steps up to the challenge, then lops the Green Knight's head off. The Green Knight picks up his own severed head, then tells Sir Gawain they'll meet again in one year. And thus begins our hero's journey. 

Hype for The Green Knight is real

A24 is known for being low-key when it comes to marketing its movies, preferring to let the films speak for themselves instead of doing any heavy, over-the-top promotion. "The Green Knight" has continued to make headlines despite not having a massive marketing campaign behind it — almost entirely thanks to the caliber of its creative talent in front of and behind the camera — and what movie fans have seen of the film so far has them excited beyond belief. "The Green Knight" has made it onto several lists of outlets' most anticipated movies of 2021, with Observer stamping it as a "must-see" summer movie.

Over on Twitter, users have expressed their excitement for "The Green Knight" with the kind of quippy, unrestrained posts characteristic of the platform. "Yo, I can't stop watching the latest trailer for The Green Knight. I'm SOOOOO f***ing hyped," one Twitter user wrote. Another confessed that they haven't been excited about movies in quite some time, but the thought of seeing "The Green Knight" in theaters made them feel those warm fuzzies again: "this is the first time [in] a long time i got excited with [an] upcoming release ... and that's on the green knight" (via Twitter).

An oral history of The Green Knight

There's one final piece to the puzzle that is learning (almost) everything there is to know about the upcoming "Green Knight" film, and that's watching A24's special video entitled "Legends Never Die: An Oral History of 'The Green Knight.'" Narrated by the Green Knight himself, Ralph Ineson, the video gives a fast-paced rundown of the 14th-century tale upon which the upcoming movie is based as well as the history of its existence and its endurance in the literary (and pop-cultural) canon.

However, what's particularly interesting about A24's "Oral History of 'The Green Knight'" is that it appears to reveal a plot detail that doesn't exist in "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." Gizmodo Australia's Beth Elderkin pointed this out in a recent report, noting that canonically, Sir Gawain is King Arthur's nephew, the son of his half-sister Morgause. In David Lowery's "The Green Knight," however, Sir Gawain is actually the son of another one of King Arthur's half-siblings: Morgan Le Fay, the famed enchantress and associate of Merlin, played in the movie by Sarita Choudhury. Only time will tell how this switch-up plays out. 

Start counting down the days until you meet "The Green Knight" when it opens in theaters on July 30.