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Warner Bros.’ plans to expand the brand of its popular LEGO franchise revved up today, as they have staked out territory for a spinoff feature modeled after the Ninjago toy and story line.
Specifically, a LEGO Ninjago movie will reach theaters on September 23, 2016, according to Variety. The trade notes that Charlie Bean will direct the picture, with Dan Lin, Roy Lee, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (of The LEGO Movie fame) producing. Bean’s previous credits include episodes of the TV series Robotboy and TRON: Uprising. This will be his feature-film debut, but it might look something like this:
LEGO Ninjas date back to 1998, when the toy company launched a line modeled after the mighty warriors. Recently, in 2011, the line was upgraded to revolve around LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, which inspired a Cartoon Network TV series and a video game.
The world of LEGO Ninjago blends Chinese and Japanese myths and culture, and exists in an expansive universe that should give Charlie Bean and his creative team plenty of room to explore. There are heroes, and evildoers (like Lord Garmadon and the Skeleton Army). The main characters in this series connect to certain elemental properties (Fire, Ice, Lightning and Earth), meaning there are shades of Power Rangers, as well as The Last Airbender. Because who needs originality anymore?
What will be interesting will be watching this LEGO Ninjago movie get off the ground and possibly interact with the soon-to-exist The LEGO Movie 2, which Warner Bros. is hoping to get into theaters in May 2017. One would assume the sheer difficulty of puling off a stop-motion animation feature is what’s causing the delay on these LEGO films. But with LEGO Ninjago arriving a full year prior to The LEGO Movie 2, either the studio hit the greenlight on that film sooner than expected, or it might use a style of animation that speeds up the process.
Either way, if LEGO Ninjago generates the same levels of goodwill that The LEGO Movie enjoyed, the potential for franchise growth and crossover is high. Fans of the LEGO stories now have two animated adventures to look forward to. Will you check both of them out?