What Hollywood Can Learn From The Success Of ‘The Lego Movie’ – Forbes
The Lego Movie seems like the kind of film that was dreamed up by a bunch of marketing executives looking for product integration. The concept is a 90-minute ad. It shouldn’t have worked.
And yet the film is a bona fide hit, grossing $69 million in its opening weekend. Critics are raving and audiences give it an A Cinemascore, which means the movie has legs and should keep earning for weeks.
Don’t be surprised if the success of the film emboldens Hollywood to push harder for more product tie-in films. Bringing on a production partner like Lego makes good financial sense. The corporation pays for part of the production and if the film is a hit, all parties benefit from massive merchandising.
But Hollywood needs to proceed with caution. The lesson of The Lego Movie is not that movie-goers are now happy to sit through any corporate content that President Business might dish out. We’re not going to watch endless reruns of Where Are My Pants?
The real takeaway from The Lego Movie is that if something is really good, it doesn’t matter where the idea came from — it will find an audience. As Entertainment Weekly movie critic Owen Gleiberman put it, the film is “10 times more clever and smart and funny than it needed to be.” By bringing on incredibly creative and talented filmmakers and letting them run with their vision, Warner Bros. created something truly original and incredibly entertaining.
That’s not easy to do no matter what the origins of the film and it’s especially hard when you’re dealing with a product tie-in. Just ask Universal. The studio made a deal with Hasbro in 2008 to makes a bunch of films based on Hasbro Hasbro toys. But the first film in that partnership, Battleship, sank at the box office, bringing in only $65 million domestically. (It did better internationally, grossing $237 million, but that wasn’t enough to make the $209 million film profitable.) The studio has since put other Hasbro movies on the back burner. At one point Stretch Armstrong was supposed to be a great franchise launcher for Taylor Lautner. Today it’s sitting in development purgatory.
Then there are movies like the Transformers films (from Hasbro’s partnership with Paramount). The films have been wildly successful grossing $2.7 billion at the box office with a fourth film slated for this summer. But while the films are massive and full of action, critics loathe them.
A movie based on the Ouija Board toy hits theaters this October. With a mostly unknown cast, it looks like it will be a horror film. Jason Blum, the man behind the Paranormal Activity franchise, is on board as a producer. Turning a kids game into a horror film is a bold move. As The Lego Movie shows, that’s exactly what’s needed.