It bears no repeating that the first “LEGO Movie” from the toy company giant and the Warner Animation Group was one of the biggest surprise cinematic hits from 2014, with rave reviews from critics that normally would not take a toy merchandising film seriously.
Its success has inspired a series of spinoffs featuring different characters and LEGO product lines, plus plans for a direct sequel, revealed as “LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part”. This sequel finally arrived in theaters over the weekend and, while it was still incredibly good and visually awesome, the lower review average comes across as implying that the sequel is failing.
That bit of news might be somewhat hard to swallow for fans of all things LEGO, but The Hollywood Reporter has it that the opening weekend for “LEGO Movie 2” went significantly under producer expectations, $35 million at most compared to the hoped-for $50 million.
To compare, the opening weekend of the original “LEGO Movie” was $69 million or about twice what it sequel brought in over the same period. And while that’s only for North America, overseas stats reveal that the film is not having a strong start either, with a global earning of $18 million in 63 territories.
We can note that “LEGO Movie 2” was released about five years after its direct predecessor; but box office analysts have the same diagnosis for the subpar performance: franchise fatigue. Perhaps the early signs that such a thing might happen came with the release of the second spinoff “The LEGO Ninjago Movie” in September 2017.
That was only several months after “The LEGO Batman Movie” which came out earlier that year in February; it had opened with a still-respectable $53 million compared to the $20.3 million of “Ninjago.” Going back to the $35 million first weekend of “LEGO Movie 2,” there are signs that, as the sequel’s downer reprise of the original film’s theme song goes, “Everything is Not Awesome.”
At present, “LEGO Movie 2” stands at 85% approval on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, while its 2014 original peaked at 96% (and as of this writing, holds steady at 95%). Despite the returning tandem of cast and creators, the end product looks to be a not-exact copy of its predecessor’s success story, despite the fun gags and adventure stuff and the new ear-worm theme song.
The break-even point for “LEGO Movie 2” is a worldwide box-office take of $200-225 million. Let’s hope that it gets there eventually, for more LEGO films in future. Meanwhile, its LEGO set tie-ins have long been available, and building events at various retailers are still coming up soon.