No one expected much of anything to come from The Lego Movie. When first announced, the project seemed like nothing more than a soulless cash-in off of a name brand. Then the first trailer arrived and now The Lego Movie looks to be a huge breakout hit during this typically slow season. The reason for this can easily be traced to several smart decisions made by Warners Brothers.
The film has been in development since early 2008 after the success of the first Transformers film caused studios to grab up the rights to every possible board game and toy property. Though, unlike properties like the Transformers or G.I. Joe, Lego has no pre-existing story to draw from. In August of 2009, Warner Brothers hired Dan and Kevin Hageman to draft a script for a possible live-action/animated adaptation. After several unsatisfactory drafts, the project appeared to take a spot on the back burner. Finally, in June of 2010 Warner Brothers hired the writer-director team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller to make an animated adaptation of the popular toy.
Miller and Lord first gained attention for the short-lived beloved cult series Clone High. Lasting only one season but leaving an indelible impression, Clone High granted Miller and Lord the ability to write on the hit series How I Met Your Mother during what many consider to be their golden years. In 2009, Miller and Lord would release their first feature-length film, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. The film became the surprise hit of the fall season and was very well-received critically. In 2012, the duo would release another film many had little hope in and the pair’s first live-action film, the adaptation of the popular 80’s series 21 Jump Street. With the perfect combination of meta-humor and over-the-top comedic set pieces, Miller and Lord were responsible for another smash hit. The Lego Movie seems primed to be yet another breakout hit for the duo during this slow season.
The Lego Movie is cleverly crafted from the ground up to be a total and complete universe. From the smoke and water being made from the small plastic bricks to the appearance of classic and new pieces from the toy’s colorful history, Miller and Lord obsessed over every last detail. In the lead role, Miller and Lord wisely cast Parks and Recreation‘s Chris Pratt. The hulking funnyman is riding his way to the top of Hollywood between The Lego Movie and nabbing the lead role in the Marvel Studios lead-up to the Avengers sequel, The Guardians of the Galaxy. Pratt was also recently announced as the lead in the planned Jurassic Park sequel, Jurassic World, due out in 2015.
The Lego Movie is about an ordinary mini-figure named Emmet, voiced by Pratt, mistaken as the great Master Builder. Emmet has to team up with his good friend Benny, an old wizard, a rough young woman, a pirate, a unicorn-cat hybrid and Batman amongst other DC Comic superheroes to stop the evil Lord Business from gluing the entire Lego universe together permanently.
At the moment, weekend estimates for The Lego Movie sit around the $40 million mark. The animated film was produced for $60 million prior to marketing and Warner Brothers is reportedly very happy with the final product. This past week, the studio announced that they have hired writer Jared Stern to begin to pen the sequel. The film currently sits at 100 percent on the review site Rottentomatoes with 22 reviews. The Lego Movie has quickly become the must-see movie of this slow season and is sure to be a breakout hit for Miller and Lord.
By Benjamin Murray