The doldrums of January are behind us, and the one-two punch of LEGO Movie 2 and What Men Want are here to give us the first box office weekend of 2019 worth talking about. I have equal interest in both animation and romantic comedy, and both films are follow-ups to beloved first entries that are long overdue for continuations. Unfortunately, the LEGO franchise burnt out a bit after a few spin-offs that may have helped lower fan interest and caring about what men want isn’t exactly a priority for most people. Really, how long does a movie need to be to explain that men want T & A. Except gay men, who really just want some D & A.
5 Ways to Prep - The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
By George Rose
February 7, 2019
If you were to ask me what I wanted I would tell you that I would have liked a LEGO Movie sequel about three years ago and a What Women Want spin-off about a decade ago. Both franchises are past their prime and have waited a little too long to fully capitalize on their brand. I’m not sure why it took the producers so long to get on board with moving things forward but here we are in 2019 and the second weekend of February is proving to be the first interesting one of the year. Yes, Glass has come and gone with little fanfare and it may join The Upside as one of the only two flicks to crawl past the $100 million barrier. That’s not awful, considering January is typically a dumping ground, but it’s certainly not worth bragging about.
The dead zone is over and February is about to kick things into high gear. Regardless of how long it took to make these movies, interest is still high in both LEGO Movie 2 and What Men What. Early reviews for LEGO 2 are very strong, which the film needed in order to stay relevant after such a long break from LEGO 1. As of a week prior to its release, What Men Want has no reviews available and that’s definitely not what the movie needed to help build pre-release buzz. It’s pretty clear which one will win the battle of the weekend but, at the end of the day, significant drops are in store for the sequel and the spin-off. The sad thing is, nobody really seems to care. With Disney being the only brand that matters, and with Dumbo and Captain Marvel still weeks away, everyone is just passing the time until the real stories start. Since LEGO 2 is likely to earn three times as much as What Men Want, it’s stands to reason more people would be interested in how to prep for the block-tacular sequel so that’s what we’ll focus on this week. Break out your bricks and start building, friends, as we start stacking up 5 Ways to Prep for LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part!
THE LEGO MOVIE (2014): Oh man, this movie is amazing. There was no reason a full-length feature about children’s building blocks should be good but it was, it really was. Written and directed by two of this generation's most gifted writers/directors (Phil Lord and Chris Miller), LEGO Movie was about an ordinary man (Emmet Brickowski) becoming “the Special” savior needed to take down the evil Lord Business. Seems basic, right? Except now throw in the brilliant humor the directors are known for, tons of breathtaking action, countless cameos from brands under the Warner Bros umbrella, an A-list voice cast (Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson and so many more) and a never ending sense of joy. The catchy “Everything is Awesome” theme song is just the cherry on top of this wonderful sundae.
The good news is that this praise was not just given by me. With 95% positive reviews, a $69 million opening, a $258 million domestic total and almost $500 million worldwide, it’s safe to say the world fell in love with LEGOS all over again. And just like that, an animated franchise was born that could rival any put out by Pixar, Disney, Illumination or Dreamworks. The only question left after this unexpected success was: what comes next?
THE LEGO SPIN-OFFS: Now comes the bad news. The natural assumption after great success is that a sequel of lesser quality would get rushed into production as quickly as possible to capitalize on the success of the first film. I mean, five years is a loooooong time to wait for a follow-up. Your choices are either to release a sequel after two to three years (like most studios and per the interest of the public) or after ten years (like Pixar and per the interest in nostalgia). The thing is, the studio didn’t really wait, did they? Instead of an actual sequel, Warner Bros jumped the shark and immediately went into spin-off territory. Shrek took three movies before it spun-off to Puss in Boots and Despicable Me at least waited two movies before branching off to Minions, but LEGO skipped the sequel and released LEGO Batman Movie (2017, $53 million debut, $176 million domestic, $312 million worldwide) and LEGO Ninjago Movie (2017, $20 million debut, $59 million domestic, $123 million worldwide) IN THE SAME YEAR!
While it appears franchise fatigue has set in (and it has a bit), Ninjago was for fans of the TV show and less a true spin-off. Batman was in LEGO Movie so his feature was at least connected in some way. Regardless, it’s been too long and too sloppy since we got a proper sequel to Emmet’s story. While dropping to Ninjago’s $59 million is a bit extreme, Batman’s $176 million shows what even DC’s mightiest is capable of after the brick novelty was broken down and LEGO 2 is looking to make about the same.
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 1 & 2 (2009 & 2013): Before Phil Lord and Chris Miller took children’s toys and turned them into a hilarious blockbuster, they turned a children’s book into a hilarious blockbuster of smaller proportions. Nobody expected first-time writers/directors to turn a 32-page mostly-picture book into a critically praised, $100+ surprise hit but that’s exactly what happened. After the 87% positive reviews came in and $125 million was earned, Lord and Miller became directors to keep an eye on and they haven’t disappointed yet. They have since led 21 Jump Street, LEGO Movie and 22 Jump Street to more acclaim and riches, and even produced the new Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse to great heights with an Oscar win around the corner. But I digress. Cloudy was their claim to fame and it remains one of the great hidden gems of the animation world.
Unfortunately, they bailed on the sequel. That’s not to say it’s bad, though. With 71% positive reviews and a $120 million total, it retained most of what made the first movie such a success. If LEGO 2 can hold up as well, and early reviews say it has, we could be looking at a similar 4% dip in earnings with LEGO 2 racking up about $248 million. That may have happened but LEGO Batman and Ninjago already helped wean interest. If only there was a better comp for us to work with.
JURASSIC WORLD 2: Ok so this has nothing to do with animation and everything to do with Chris Pratt, current king of Hollywood. He has LEGO, Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World as his trio of monster franchises that are keeping his A-list status afloat. Guardians came out of nowhere and surprises when it earned 91% positive reviews and $333 million. When lightning strikes like that, even a sequel with lesser reviews can climb higher. Guardians Vol 2 was rated 84% positive but still reached $390 million. That’s what should have happened for LEGO 2 but, instead, we’re likely to see something a little more Jurassic.
World 1 was 72% positive, opened to $209 million and earned $652 million. Then, World 2 fell to 47% positive reviews, $148 million debut and $418 million total. Granted, there were no spin-off’s between to dilute the earnings but World 1 isn’t an original property, is it? It capitalized on the nostalgia of the original trilogy and then took a hit when everyone came down from their dino high. World 2 lost 1/4 from the opening and 1/3 from the total. With LEGO having worn down it’s novelty with spin-offs, LEGO 2 could drop similar to World 2. If so, we can expect an opening around $52 million and a total near $170 million. Oddly enough, this is what many box office analysts are expecting. It’s sad though because these are the numbers I’d expect from LEGO 3.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: The natural progression of thought would typically lead me to now ramble on about how the Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon trilogies are typical trajectories for an animated franchise with diminishing returns; or, I could go on to say how Shrek and Despicable Me are good comps too because those brands also experienced spin-offs; or how Solo: A Star Wars Story may have wrongfully tarnished the good names of a Lord and Miller and blah blah blah. There are so many standard paths LEGO could take but only one point remains: I’m excited to see this movie! It’s been too long, and that sucks, but it’s finally here! Screw LEGO Batman and Ninjago, this is the LEGO movie I’ve been waiting for! Emmet’s LEGO character can move by itself in the real world? The boy playing with LEGOS now has to play with his sister?! There are so many questions that need to play out so who really cares how much it makes? I just want to enjoy the spectacle and thinking about numbers won’t do it.
What will do it, however, is getting prepped for the story itself. Outside of the first LEGO feature, I imagine the most helpful film in getting ready for the sequel is Justice League. Not for the numbers and certainly not for the quality of the movie. Instead, you’ll want to know the many DC superheroes that Warner Bros plans to have cameo. Sure, they own the rights to many characters that could pop up but they seem to be most invested in the DC cross-branding. Maybe DC needs all the help it can get, I don’t know. Still, if you want to be “in the know” as much as possible, this League is sure to boost your chances. And with that, my friends, we are ready to to see The Second Part! In only a few days time we’ll finally have the answers to the numbers and story alike. 2019 is finally here and I’m just happy to have something worth talking about.