It is no longer about sequels anymore, no longer about taking it one at a time. It is the age of cinematic universes in Hollywood. With the success of the booming Marvel universe, the studios have seen firsthand the fruits that it can reap. So others are following suit. Warner Bros. has lined up a slate of movies from the world of DC Comics, announcing release dates for each one without even waiting (or caring) about how well the first movie is received. Disney bought Lucasfilms to not only revive the saga of Star Wars, but to bombard cinema halls with a movie each year, that is, a sequel to the original series and a spinoff alternating every other year. Sony Pictures wanted to widen its Spider-Man universe and so announced a Sinister Six film which was based around the villains. Things have moved a step further with the Sony and Marvel tie-up which will bring Spider-Man into the Marvel superhero world. Studios are coming out with something akin to five-year plans now, advertising their movies as more than just sequels, trying to get the audience invested into bigger and wider cinematic universes. This may just be the beginning of the next wave of big scale releases. Joining in this approach is Warner Bros. Animation which hit gold last year with The Lego Movie and now wants more out of it.
The Lego Movie, which released in March 2014, was a stellar hit. Warner Bros. Animation, which was releasing an animated film after a very long time, had earmarked a production budget of only $60 million for the movie. But that did not dilute the quality of The Lego Movie at all, and was loved equally by critics and audience, eventually earning $469 million worldwide at the box-office. The announcement of a sequel was no surprise. But the subsequent ‘Lego explosion’ is!
There are now four Lego movies in the making. Yeah right, four! Three of them will be spin-offs and the fourth would be the sequel to the original film.
Ninjago (2016) – The lovers of the Lego toy series will know better about the Ninjago line. It has come out in the market as recently as 2011, and is based on the previous ‘Ninja’ series of Lego. There has been a TV series launched as well. The movie Ninjago will however divert from the TV series and establish its own identity. It will have a lot of samurais and ninjas fighting on one side, and dragons and snake men on the other, along with a banished warlord who plans to return to power. The movie will be directed by Charlie Bean who is a pro in the animation industry, having worked for a number of animated series in the art department like The Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory, and has directed some episodes of animated TV series Tron: Uprising. Huge expectations on his shoulders now; The Lego Movie was always going to be a tough act to follow!
The Lego Batman Movie (2017) – Who Ben Affleck? For the fans of The Lego Movie, Will Arnett’s voice behind the toy-sized Batman is the real deal. And now The Dark Knight gets his own Lego movie which will release in 2017. Will Arnett will voice the lead character again in this spin-off film. The script is being written by Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: The Vampire Hunter, Dark Shadows) and will be directed by Chris McKay who has a vast experience in the animation industry; he was the director for the stop-motion animation TV series Robot Chicken.
The Lego Movie Sequel (2018) – The sequel to The Lego Movie will release in 2018, and would continue the story four years after the events of the 2014 film. The script is a work-in-progress for now, and so we wouldn’t know which characters and actors would be returning. Chris Pratt (who voiced the lead character of Emmet) has already expressed a desire to be part of the sequel. The sequel will not be helmed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller though, who would still be writing and producing the movie, as the directing duties have been passed on to Rob Schrab. This may not be a name known to many, as Schrab has mainly been a TV guy who has directed episodes of series such as The Sarah Silverman Program amongst many more, including the recent Community. He wrote the screenplay for the animated movie Monster House (2006), in case you can recollect it (a decent movie). The Lego Movie Sequel is nonetheless quite a big project for Rob Schrab; while it is the direct sequel to last year’s hit, it would be counted as the fourth movie of the franchise, and thus the need to differentiate it from the others would be important. Good luck to Schrab!
The Billion Brick Race (Unknown) – Recently, Warner Bros. announced its latest spin-off in the franchise titled The Billion Brick Race. The release date is not known yet, but a 2019 release could be a reasonable guess. The movie is in early stages of development, so I have no idea what kind of a spin-off it would be. Interestingly though, the director’s job has been offered to a familiar on-screen face, Jason Segal. That’s right, Marshall of How I Met Your Mother. Segal has featured in many comedies on TV and in cinema, but The Billion Brick Race will mark his directorial debut for a feature film. He will be co-directing the movie along with another debutant, Drew Pearce. The movie will be co-written by both as well, an area which is not unfamiliar to either of them. Jason Segal has been trying his hand at writing for sometime now, Sex Tape and The Muppets being some of his recent works, while Drew Pearce has written the screenplay for Iron Man 3 and the upcoming Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. An interesting combination between these two!
So get ready to see a lot of characters from the Lego series over the coming years. Whether we will be fatigued by it, or we will want more, that should depend a lot on how good the initial releases are. But hey, don’t forget —
Everything is awesome
Everything is cool when you’re part of a team