Lego Movie Destroys Sturdy Monuments at the Box Office
By John Hamann
February 9, 2014
The Lego Movie did this weekend what the Seahawks did to the Broncos last weekend. For The Lego Movie, obliteration is about the only word that describes it, as like Frozen, we have another animated success story that is turning the box office rule book on its head.
Yes, what Frozen did for girls over the last 11 weeks, The Lego Movie is doing for boys this weekend, delivering quality entertainment to our youngsters and our young at heart. The Lego Movie found the box office sweet spot this weekend, joining the biggest top 10 non-summer, non-Thanksgiving/Christmas openers ever. Also opening this weekend is George Clooney’s Monuments Men, the once Oscar positioned, star-studded World War II film, that got moved by Sony into February because “the visual effects weren’t going to be ready” by its original release date (or, Sony saw it and wasn’t impressed). And finally we have Vampire Academy, the ridiculous cross between Hogwarts and Twilight, a film that should not be seen by anybody.
Our number one movie is The Lego Movie, the perfectly advertised, perfectly scheduled, and almost perfectly made movie, starring Lego characters. The Warner Bros. release got started on Thursday night, earning an expectedly quiet $400,000 – at this point, tracking seemed right, calling for a $45-$50 million weekend. The 3D animated flick was positioned correctly, with The Nut Job fading and Frozen relying on a sing along re-release to keep its 10-weekend momentum going. The Lego Movie’s Friday number came in at $16.75 million (or $17.1 million with Thursday included), and at that point I knew we were looking at something special. If it was frontloaded, The Lego Movie would likely see a weekend multiplier between 3.5 (a $59 million weekend), and 4.0 (a $67.4 million weekend), as at its most basic this is a toy movie for kids, and Saturday and Sunday were going to outgross Friday regardless how many adults showed up on opening day. I’m a 42-year-old, and would really like to see The Lego Movie, and have been curious about this weekend multiplier for a while.
In the end, The Lego Movie earned $30.9 million on Saturday, an 80% increase over the Friday number, and earned an estimated $21 million on Sunday. The weekend total for The Lego Movie became $69.1 million, giving the Warner Bros. release the second biggest weekend total for the month of February, behind only The Passion of the Christ, which took in $83.8 million in 2004, and ahead of Hannibal, which earned $58 million in 2001 (note the longstanding records in February). Warner Bros. put The Lego Movie out to 3,775 venues, and it earned a stellar venue average of $18,307. It opened in the same ball park as Frozen ($67.4 million), and the Pixar trio – Up ($68.1 million), Brave ($66.3 million) and The Incredibles ($70.5 million). This is extremely solid company, as all of these films had much better release dates than The Lego Movie.
Made by Village Roadshow and Lego Systems, and distributed by Warner Bros., The Lego Movie cost its makers only $60 million to bring to the screen. Compared to films like Frozen, Up and Brave, it was relatively cheap, as the comparisons all cost more than $150 million to make. The studios broke the rule book by opening this one so early in February. The former biggest animated film to open in February is Gnomeo and Juliet, the forgettable release that debuted in third with $25.4 million in 2011. The maybe more well-remembered February animated release is Coraline, which is the second biggest animated opener for the second month, and it started with only $16.8 million, an amount The Lego Movie opened to on its first day.