LEGO’s cinema success is ushering in a new trend. But can other toy brands keep up using the same formula?
When The LEGO Movie was released in 2014, it seemed like one giant marketing gimmick.
Essentially an extended ad, the film integrated a specific, recognisable product into a Hollywood animation that proved to be box office gold.
It paid in more ways than one, too: Following the successful release of the film, LEGO reported a 14 percent jump in sales in the same year and 25 percent the following year.
It seems children quickly fell in love with the plastic figurines while the older generation was overcome with a sense of nostalgia.
So successful was the film that the Denmark-based toy brand expanded its horizon with the release of The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Ninjago Movie in 2017.
It seems they started a trend, too.
Mattel – the US-based toy manufacturing company famous for its Barbie line – created Mattel Films so it too can give its toys an injection of Hollywood sparkle.
There’s also news of Warner Bros. developing a movie based on Funko! Pop toys featuring an interesting mix of characters including the Care Bears, Wonder Woman, Hello Kitty and Darth Vader.
“Like adapting famous novels, comics, true-life stories and rebooting films, the name of the game is brand recognition,” entertainment journalist Nick Doll said on Latino Review Media.
“You make a Hot Wheels or Funko! Pop movie because people know it. You don’t have to introduce them to something new.
“Adapting a toy into a film also allows for more freedom than adapting a book, for example. These toys have no-plot to basic-plot, so there’s lots of freedom for a director to take them in a fun direction.”
Whether Hot Wheels and Funko! Pop will also have the same mainstream appeal remains to be seen.
But LEGO is clearly sure of its winning formula and is continuing its movie marketing ploy with its latest instalment, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, scheduled for release in UAE theatres on 7th February.
The film sees the city of Bricksburg in post-apocalyptic shambles. More problems arise when an intergalactic villain kidnaps residents prompting protagonist Emmet to venture into space to save his friends.
The plot of the first film was pretty standard: It was the classic good-versus-evil story. But the second instalment is going one step further, introducing relevant themes for today’s children while tying in the business aspect by exploring the different ways toys are marketed to boys and girls – oh, and another popular toy is being plugged, too.
“We don’t make these movies just to make them,” producer Dan Lin told Cinema Blend.
“With The LEGO Movie sequel we’re going to explore themes we haven’t yet explored in the first movie; you can see where we ended the first movie with Duplo, and Finn’s being encouraged by his dad to play with his little sister. It’s ripe for storytelling for the sequel and themes we didn’t explore in terms of younger sibling/older sibling and how do boys play/how do girls play.”
With its mass appeal, relevant storyline and simultaneous release of a video game, it certainly seems The LEGO Movie has a successful strategy in place, and that everything truly is awesome in the world of LEGO.
Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Will Ferrell and Tiffany Haddish Directed by: Mike Mitchell
Running time: 110 mins