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Photo: ‘The Lego Movie’
When the announcement was made back in 2011 that Warner Bros. would be releasing a feature-length animated film around Legos, it seemed the project was doomed from the start. How could an animated film about Legos make for a full-length film, let alone an exceptional one? It seemed the movie would be a huge marketing scheme for the Denmark-based toy company. After all, it would not be the first time a toy company created a film or television show to push a product. Despite the initial skepticism, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller exceeded all expectations by creating a children’s film with diverse humor and a lot of heart.
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After the box-office hit that was 2014’s ‘The Lego Movie,’ Lord and Miller’s animated success story spawned a 2019 sequel, ‘The Lego Movie 2,’ and two spinoffs. With Warner Bros. producing four Lego film projects, is a third Lego movie necessary?
The Lego Movie and The Lego Movie 2
What made ‘The Lego Movie’ stand out from the usual toy-oriented films was its direction and love given by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The film had a star-studded cast, with the likes of Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Morgan Freeman, and a number of other celebrities. ‘The Lego Movie’ built itself upon the message that anyone, and therefore everyone, can be special or important. The film’s protagonist, Emnet, played by Chris Pratt, is a simple construction worker who discovers he is the chosen one. However, by the end of his story, Emnet learns that he is not the chosen one but just a normal Lego person. What made Emnet special was believing in himself and taking action against the tyranny of Lord Business, played by Will Ferrell. At the end of the movie, it is revealed in a twist that the world of ‘The Lego Movie’ is actually a giant Lego table set built by a child’s father. The twist allowed for the film to reveal a second message hidden under the story of ‘The Lego Movie’ the entire time: toys are meant to be shared and individual creativity is important for everyone.
The sequel, ‘The Lego Movie 2,’ was announced shortly after the release of the first film and planned to have Chris Pratt and others reprise their roles. With the announcement of a sequel, it raised the question: could a second Lego movie live up to its predecessor? With a twist revealing that the entire plot of ‘The Lego Movie’ was in the mind of a young boy named Finn, played by Jadon Sand, would the audience have an incentive to care about these characters and see them through another film? Once again, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, with the help of ‘Bojack Horseman’ creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg, managed to exceed all expectations and create a film that was not only as funny as ‘The Lego Movie,’ but just as heartfelt, if not more so, as well.
Lego Movie Spin-Offs (Good and Bad)
With the release of ‘The Lego Movie’ came a spinoff about one of its main characters, Lego Batman. In 2017, Warner Bros. released ‘The Lego Batman Movie,’ which told the story of Batman and other DC characters in their own standalone film. ‘The Lego Batman Movie,’ in a similar light to ‘The Lego Movie,’ was goofy but managed to capture a lot of hearts by telling the story of a man, Batman, learning to love himself, his family, and his son.
That same year, Warner Bros. released another Lego spinoff of one of their original Lego properties: ‘The Lego Ninjago Movie.’ This was the first Lego film given mixed reviews by both audiences and critics alike, with both agreeing that while the film was comedic and fun, it lacked the same heart and direction as previous Lego films. Along with this, ‘The Lego Ninjago Movie’ received nowhere near the advertising and publicity as ‘The Lego Movie’ and ‘The Lego Batman Movie.’ ‘The Lego Ninjago Movie’ was the first sign that the Lego film formula was struggling and would not guarantee a box office success.
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Is a Threequel Needed?
With ‘The Lego Movie 2’ struggling at the box office as well, only bringing in 34.1 million instead of the estimated 55 million dollars, Warner Bros. struck a deal with Universal Studios, selling the rights for five years. Now under a new studio and already a box-office blunder, can ‘The Lego Movie 3’ stand out from its predecessors while also feeling like a meaningful story?
Similar to another animated toy franchise, it seems that ‘The Lego Movie’ will need to reinvent itself and the stakes, just like Pixar’s ‘Toy Story 3.’ Similar to ‘The Lego Movie,’ ‘Toy Story’ was ready to present a third installment to the franchise but needed something fresh in order to keep the story of these characters interesting. ‘Toy Story 3’ did this by aging up Andy, the owner of Woody and the gang, allowing for a new story to be told. It could be said that ‘The Lego Movie 3’ will need to do something in a similar light, as presenting another Lego film where Finn and his sister, Bianca, played by Brooklynn Prince, play with Legos would make for a bland and unnecessary addition to ‘The Lego Movie’ franchise.
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Currently, at the moment, there is no news of what ‘The Lego Movie 3’ will be about nor any trailers for the upcoming project. As of now, it seems that Chris Pratt and others will likely revive their roles from the previous films, as well as Phil Lord and Chris Miller writing the project. Navigating this third installment will be difficult but achievable. Warner Bros. has proved on more than one occasion that a Lego film (and sequels) can thematically work. However, it seems that as of now, ‘The Lego Movie 3’ could fall into the traps of other animated film sequels. Hopefully, ‘The Lego Movie 3’ will come out on top and Phil Lord and Chris Miller will prove once again they have what it takes to tell another hilarious and endearing story with Emnet and his friends.
By Spencer Hoffman
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Spencer Hoffman is a writer for The Hollywood Insider and current film student. He is an avid consumer of cinema and television and enjoys sharing his insight on these topics within his features and reviews. He strongly believes in the power of the written word and the importance of truth in everything. Spencer aligns with The Hollywood Insider’s views of empowerment and raising all types of voices up. He hopes to entertain and incite meaningful conversation with his pieces.