We love The Lego Movie. Everybody freaking loves The Lego Movie (except the Academy and Fox News, apparently). However it's massive box-office success may have had some unexpected consequences for the US animation industry over the next few years.
As so often happens, Hollywood has once again managed to learn the wrong lessons. It's hard to pin down the reason that The Lego Movie was so successful. The nostalgia factor for Lego itself is a big factor- and the brand itself also appeals to kids. But the biggest reason for it's success was more to do with it being so unexpectedly good. With Phil Lord and Chris Miller on board, their sense of strong story-telling and comedic genius lead to a film loved by audiences and critics alike. But what did Warner Bros take away from the experience? "People love Lego- lets make more Lego Movies!". So we now have an entire cinematic universe of Lego movies in development, not just the inevitable sequel. Lego Batman is very welcome, but beyond that? Without Lord and Miller in charge, it's not such a sure thing.
Outside of WB, other studios also seem to be being inspired by Lego's success, in less than encouraging ways. Hollywood is arguably currently more risk-averse than ever. Brand recognition is everything, which explains the glut or sequels, reboots, remakes and adaptations. If you can make a hit animated movie based on Lego of all things, surely anything's fair game? So Hollywood has been green-lighting animated movies based on existing properties that may be even less than appropriate, at least on paper.
"Oh, so you like Lego? How about the Playmobile movie? That's pretty much the same, right?" This practice seems cynical at worst, misguided at best, and it's not likely to bring the best of results. Unless they can marshal talent in the same league as Lord and Miller.
The Angry Birds movie concept actually predates the success of the Danish Brick-based flick, but comes from similar thinking. Again it seems to value brand awareness over anything else. But this trend has recently arguably reached it's nadir with Sony's plans to make an Emoticons movie and the plans to make a Pez dispenser movie (oh how I wish I was joking, but alas not). I have only one thing to say to that: Sad face, confused face, poo with eyes.
Of course, it may be that if these films do ever reach our screens, they could surprise us, and be brilliant. Perhaps more likely though they will be little more than soulless cash-ins.. It'd definitely be preferable if the resources and money being spent on these were used instead on original stories. But then again.. this is Hollywood, so perhaps we should have expected nothing else.
Is it unfair to blame The Lego Movie for all this? Probably. It's unlikely Lord and Miller could have predicted the possibly disastrous consequences that they were about to unwittingly unleash. In a similar way that Einstein's discoveries would ultimately lead to the horrors of Nuclear war. Yet the fact remains... it's all Emmet's fault. Oh, Lego Movie what hast thou wrought?
Monday, August 17, 2015
The Unfortunate Legacy of 'The Lego Movie'
Posted by Chris Perkins
Chris writes about movies, games, TV and other stuff you love, and has written for places including MyM magazine, Rant Gaming, KillStreakMedia and Anime UK News. He particularly specialises in the field of animation and spends far too much time watching cartoons for a grown up. He regrets nothing. Follow him at @misterchristor.