3. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)
Worldwide Box Office: $192.3million
Starring: Chris Pratt, Tiffany Haddish, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Stephanie Beatriz, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Channing Tatum, Mike Mitchell, Jonah Hill, Will Ferrell, Maya Rudolph, Ben Schwartz, Jason Momoa, Richard Ayoade, Cobie Smulders, Noel Fielding, Ralph Fiennes, Will Forte, Ike Barinholtz, Gal Gadot
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part was something of a surprise dud for Warner Animation Group and the Lego brand considering the astronomical success of the first Lego Movie, the 2nd most expensive WAG release to date struggling to double its production budget, meaning that (along with promotional costs and so on) the film likely lost Warner Bros money during its box office run.
The Lego Movie 2 came and went without much fanfare, a fact illustrative of its less than spectacular on-screen offerings as well being an indicator of the franchise suffering from the rule of diminishing returns following three Lego Movie releases in the previous 5 years – a period in time that seemed much too long to wait for a straight sequel to a runaway hit (as was the case here).
While The Second Part offered much less of the magic on offer in our top 2 WAG films, it was better than its reception would suggest; a fairly good animated feature all things considered – the animation seeming to recover (if only slightly) from the low point of Ninjago and some of the comedy beats hitting just as well as those in The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Movie.
Ultimately though, The Lego Movie 2 was a forgettable albeit enjoyable Warner Animation Group release, the underwhelming box office performance of this film – which indicated a downward trend for the Lego IP on the big screen – ending the relationship between WAG and Lego for good, Lego seeking pastures new at Universal Studios for the next 5 years.
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2. The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
Worldwide Box Office: $312million
Starring: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Zach Galifianakis, Ralph Fiennes, Chris McKay, Jenny Slate, Jonah Hill, Mariah Carey, Channing Tatum, Zoë Kravitz, Billy Dee Williams, Kate Micucci, Conan O’Brien, Eddie Izzard, Riki Lindhome, Ellie Kemper, Jason Mantzoukas, Doug Benson, Adam DeVine, Jermaine Clement, Seth Green
The Lego Batman Movie was a breath of fresh air for the silver screen version of The Dark Knight, a character that had been the source of much controversy and speculation following the divisive Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie released the previous year.
Perhaps the absolute peak of the Lego movies’ referential comedy, The Lego Batman Movie was a laugh a minute, the kind of family animated film with little bits of everything for everyone. It was also the perfect satire for the Batman universe Warner Bros had created on the screen, the film poking fun at story elements that previous Batman movies may have got wrong and bringing to light elements they may have missed, but never once becoming unnecessarily mean or counter-productive to the Batman bandwagon so much of Warner Bros replies upon.
In the screenplay, the crux of the the narrative centred around a Joker and Batman relationship the likes of which we hadn’t seen on the big screen in the same way for years (that being that they need each other, that they balance one another), the film therefore using its references to build upon the individual characterisations and its overall emotional impact, cameo after cameo for other DC superheroes also being included to ensure moments of glee throughout.
While the animation style was noticeably less detailed than in The Lego Movie, there was still a great deal of passion and talent behind The Lego Batman Movie which ensured a solid Lego-branded follow-up to our number one film…
1. The Lego Movie (2014)
Worldwide Box Office: $468.1million
Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Will Ferrell, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Chris McKay, Morgan Freeman, Cobie Smulders, Liam Neeson, Dave Franco, Will Forte, Jadon Sand, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Shaquille O’Neal, Jake Johnson
When Warner Bros and Lego announced that they were coming together to make an animated movie from a yet-to-be-proven animation arm, many in the industry judged The Lego Movie to be a shameless cash-in; a form of glorified product placement or outright advertisement. The truth was actually far more complex, Warner Animation Group arriving into the animated film realm with an enjoyable, legitimately funny and originally animated feature release that had a twist big enough to knock your socks off.
Still the company’s most expensive and lucrative film to date (the film financed in part by Village Roadshow Productions in an attempt by Warner Bros to protect themselves should their gamble have failed), The Lego Movie was so detailed and the animation so impressively rendered that each of the Lego pieces had barely visible finger prints on them and the production was able to convince people that they were actually watching a stop motion film.
The story in of itself was one that not only felt in-keeping with the Lego brand but also felt original, the idea being that a child’s imagination is limitless, and that when said child gets their hands on the famous building blocks, they can theoretically bring that imagination to life – the film being presented as a simple extension of that. The true emotional punch was indeed related to this, and the film’s shock reveal was enough to warrant The Lego Movie a place among the most memorable animated releases of the 21st century.
With other WAG productions noticeably reducing the details in their other movies hereafter, and The Lego Movie being perhaps one of the most idiotic omissions from the Oscars this decade (a true testament to its quality as a piece of cinema), there are simply no comparisons in the relatively short output of the Warner Animation Group.
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What do you make of our list? Would you have ordered the films differently? Make sure to let us know in the comments below, and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on more articles like this one.
Updated to include Scoob!, Tom & Jerry, Space Jam: A New Legacy on 7th September 2021. Originally published 12th May 2020.