LEGO has come a long way since launching as a toy brand. Granted, those plastic construction bricks are still popular playthings for children and adults alike, but the company has expanded into a media powerhouse, which includes finally making the jump to the big screen. However, while Warner Bros handled the first round of theatrical LEGO movies, it's Universal Pictures that's taking over for the next LEGO cinematic chapter.
Back in December, it was reported that since Warner Bros’ film deal with LEGO had expired, the latter company was looking to strike up a partnership with Universal. Cut to today, it’s been announced that LEGO and Universal have signed a five-year exclusive agreement, allowing the film studio to “develop, produce and distribute theatrical releases” based on the toy company’s intellectual property and original ideas.
Here’s what Universal chairman Donna Langley had to say about the studio’s new deal with LEGO (via The Hollywood Reporter):
The LEGO System in Play gives people the ability to build worlds and create stories that they carry throughout every phase of their lives. To partner with such an iconic brand that remains relevant and is constantly evolving allows for creativity in storytelling. We’re thrilled to start building out the next chapter of LEGO movies together with Jill and the LEGO team as they continue to inspire curiosity and innovation.
LEGO’s head of entertainment, Jill Wilfert, said the following about the new alliance:
Universal’s commitment to unique storytelling from diverse voices makes the Studio the perfect partner as the LEGO Group enters this new phase of filmmaking. Donna and the entire Universal team bring a sense of wonder and imagination we share, and we can’t wait to execute on our shared vision.
It should be noted that just because Universal will now be making LEGO movies doesn’t mean ties to the Warner Bros past have been completely cut. Dan Lin, who produced all of WB’s LEGO movies, will remain involved in this new era through his Ridgeback production company, alongside Jonathan Eirich and Jill Wilfert.
Sandwiched between the two main LEGO movies were two spinoffs, both coming out in 2017. There was The LEGO Batman Movie, which finally let Will Arnett’s Caped Crusader take center stage, and then The LEGO Ninjago Movie, which spotlighted the toy’s brands lineup of colorful ninjas. The former movie was both critically and commercially successful, while the latter fell more into mixed territory.
Warner Bros has its own solid five-year run with LEGO properties on the silver screen, kicking things off with The LEGO Movie in 2014, which starred Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell and Liam Neeson, among others. Featuring a mix of original characters and favorites from other properties, this feature received a lot of positive reception and made over $468 million worldwide.
Five years later, most of that original cast reunited for The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, and were joined by folks like Tiffany Haddish and Stephanie Haddish. Although the sequel was also largely received well, though not quite as much as its predecessor, it wasn’t nearly as commercially successful, collecting only around $192 million worldwide.
With LEGO and Universal now working together, it’s unclear what this means for the two LEGO movies that were still in development at Warner Bros: The Billion Brick Race and The LEGO Batman Movie 2. Given that Batman, just like everything else from DC Comics, is strictly a Warner Bros property, that could mean the sequel won’t be able to move forward unless a special arrangement is made. With The Billion Brick Race, if it consists primarily of original LEGO characters, one would think there’s a good chance of that project still happening.
Of course, with Universal now having access to the LEGO kingdom, that means the studio can incorporate its own properties and franchises into this brick-built playground. Picture it: LEGO Fast & Furious, LEGO Jurassic Park, LEGO Universal Monsters, LEGO Minions. There are plenty of possibilities to choose from.
Once Universal announces which LEGO movie it plans to make first, we here at CinemaBlend will let you know. In the meantime, keep track of what’s to come this year with our 2020 release schedule.