Are there too many LEGO movies on the way?

After The LEGO NINJAGO Movie generated plenty of positive buzz at San Diego Comic Con, a recent article questions whether it is a movie too many.

A piece in The Straits Times considers whether or not the slate of animated LEGO movies arriving in cinemas is sustainable. The piece highlights the drop-off in box office that occurred between The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie.

The Lego Movie was a surprise smash in 2014, costing about US$60 million (S$81.75 million) to make and collecting US$469.2 million worldwide. A sequel to that film is planned for 2019. But a related follow-up to the original, The Lego Batman Movie, released in February, took in only US$311 million, in part because girls were not as interested.

Acknowledging the home-grown success of LEGO NINJAGO, the article questions whether the brand and movie can compete in a packed year of film tie-in merchandise.

Jim Silver, the chief executive and editor in chief of TTPM, a toy industry website, said the overall market was oversaturated with movie-related toys this year, and children were not making an emotional attachment to the brands and the characters.

“There is less attention span on their property,” Silver said. “Kids are bouncing from one to another.” Underscoring the importance of The Lego Ninjago Movie, Warner Bros. and Lego headed to Comic-Con International, the annual comic book convention in San Diego, this weekend to mount a full-court press to woo die-hard fans.

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Each morning, Warner Bros. hosted a yogalike workout (“for the ninja in everyone”) on a lawn that it billed as “ninjoga.” The studio also flew in several actors who voiced characters in the film – Dave Franco, Michael Pena, Kumail Nanjiani and Olivia Munn – for a presentation that included the unveiling of a new trailer set to Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood.

Highlighting a comment made by the movie voice of Lord Garmadon underscores the hill that Warner Bros. and the LEGO Group have to climb in terms of communicating to adults what NINJAGO actually is.

the questions surrounding the movie percolated throughout the Warner Bros. presentation. Justin Theroux, who voices a character in the movie, said that boys 10 and under were “obsessed” with the Ninjago line, in part because of the Cartoon Network series Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu. “If you are over that age,” Theroux said, “you don’t know it exists.”

The Strait Time also spoke to Michael McNally, Senior Director of Brand Relations at the LEGO Group, who of course feels that the release will only benefit the company.

“That theatrical experience is then shared through a play experience,” he said, and that could result in consumers buying new sets or even playing with old ones.

“For us, the portfolio can benefit from the movie event,” McNally said, “even if the action the audience takes is to pull out the bricks they have and continue building.”

What both McNally and the article fail to note, is that The LEGO NINJAGO Movie was originally slated for a September 2016 release date, and was pushed back by a year. There was never an intention to release two LEGO movies within twelve months, so Warner Bros. and the LEGO Group are surely making the best of the situation that has arisen, but it seems hard to see how the two releases – both in terms of toys and movie – will not be taking at least some sales from one another.

The LEGO NINJAGO Movie is due for release on September 22 in the USA and October 13 in the UK.

LEGO SYSTEM A/S

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