A few things to observe about The Lego Movie:
*It earned $69 million in February. It’s animated.
*It sits at number two among all-time February openings ahead of Friday the 13th (2009), Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail, Shutter Island, The Vow, Hitch, Ghost Rider, Valentine’s Day, and Hannibal. It only trails Passion of the Christ’s $83 million dollar opening. As it happens, this is the same list for all time opening weekends in the winter, where it sits at number 2 as well.
*It features celebrity heavyweights such as Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, and other big names including Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Jonah Hill, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, and Channing Tatum.
*It’s looking at a holiday weekend coming up February 14-17.
*Its production budget of $60 million practically guarantees that we’ll be seeing a sequel within the next two years.
*Google worked a nice tie-in during the previews to its Chrome-app version of the Lego Digital Designer, a virtual lego builder that’s been around since I was ten.
This is the next Frozen. What’s going for Lego is that, like Frozen, its word of mouth capability will carry the picture far. What’s working against it is the stigma that it’s a product-placement slap to the face for anybody over the age of seven. Even twelve year-old Ivan Sanchez remarked in an interview with Variety that the movie was for younger kids. What’s going to overcome this obstacle, however, is word-of-mouth. In the theater, laughter didn’t come from howling and screeching six year-olds every two minutes, rather there seemed to be a collective satisfaction in the humor on-screen. Kids would laugh at Superman being covered in a pile of gum; adults would laugh at his misery in being wedged in next to the annoying, useless superhero Green Lantern. This film has potential for some very strong legs, and I find it promising that, as more people see Lego and find out that it is in truth an ironic criticism of consumer culture and the parents who just buy whatever sets Lego puts out, it will connect with the cynical, grown-up, too-good-for-toys audience (like teenagers).
Something else we can expect from The Lego Movie is an inevitable sequel. I’d like to think that the film’s central messages on creativity and originality would deter a follow up, but should the original team refuse, another will be hired. Animal Logic, the animation team primarily behind the movie, has created such superb, specific programming and techniques for animating square, restricted bricks that, should they for any reason not be back on board with any sequel, the product will without question be considerably less than the original. Look here for an article and here for a video on the making of The Lego Movie (provided by cartoonbrew.com). Both provide details into the intricate, precise creation of a lego world in an animated movie.