Weekend Box Office: Why The Lego Movie Could Construct a February Record

If advance ticket sales are any indication, 'The Lego Movie' could put together one of the highest February debuts of all time.

Feb 7, 2014 at 5:27PM

Time Warner, Comcast, Disney

The Lego Movie is enjoying huge advance ticket sales. Image source: Time Warner

If you had asked most people a few months ago for a list of 2014's most promising kid-friendly films, I'm betting The Lego Movie probably wouldn't have come to mind.

But thanks to a bevy of witty previews and an overwhelmingly positive response from critics, Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) Warner Brothers is about to strike box office gold with the toy-inspired film, which is slated to hit a whopping 3,775 theaters this weekend.

As of right now, The Lego Movie boasts an incredible 97% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and is largely being hailed as a clever, inventive, energetic film for all ages -- not particularly surprising considering it was co-written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the witty minds behind the first Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street.

And just this morning, Steve Davis of The Austin Chronicle even mused, "Let's go out on a critical limb, shall we? The Lego Movie is the best thing to come along since that other toy-centric movie revolutionized animated films about 20 years ago."

Building early momentum

Sure enough, yesterday Fandango announced The Lego Movie was on track to become its second-biggest advance ticket seller among all animated films, trailing only 2010's Toy Story 3 and ahead of The Walt Disney Company's (NYSE:DIS) Frozen, Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Universal's Despicable Me 2, and Disney Pixar's Monsters University at the same point in their sales cycles.

For some perspective, last year Frozen set a new record with the largest-ever Thanksgiving weekend launch, earning a massive $67.4 million from domestic audiences alone. And though Monsters University didn't set any new marks with its own release last June, it still grossed $82.4 during its first three days, good for the month's fifth-highest debut.

Meanwhile, Despicable Me 2 launched to $83.5 million last July, beginning an eventual $970 million global box office run. When all was said and done in 2013, Despicable Me 2 stood second only Iron Man 3.

Here's how big it could be

So where does that leave The Lego Movie?

For starters, it'll have its work cut out if it wants to beat the month's $83.8 million record set by 2004's The Passion of the Christ. And remember, February isn't typically a huge month at the box office, and this weekend's cold weather could certainly put a damper on sales. 

However, many estimates "only" have The Lego Movie grossing $40 million to $50 million this weekend, and I can't help but think that's a terribly conservative range.

If The Lego Movie does manage to exceed those expectations -- which seems a safe bet considering those strong advance sales -- it would automatically place in the top four February films of all-time, putting it in the same league as 2001's Hannibal and 2010's Valentine's Day, which currently hold second and third place with $58 million and $56.3 million, respectively.

Also working in its favor, The Lego Movie is largely devoid of fresh competition, at least apart from a fourth-week holdover in The Nut Job and Disney's week-old Frozen Sing-Along. If families leave theaters as happy as critics seem to think they will, you can be sure it'll translate to massive box office success over the next few months.

Here's how you can profit

Better yet for Time Warner, The Lego Movie will pay dividends for years to come thanks to merchandising, potential sequels, and media sales. That'll help Time Warner maintain its healthy dividend.

And that's great for investors like you, because one of the secrets that few finance professionals will openly admit is the fact that dividend stocks as a group handily outperform their non-dividend paying brethren. The reasons for this are too numerous to list here, but you can rest assured that it's true. However, knowing this is only half the battle. The other half is identifying which dividend stocks in particular are the best. With this in mind, our top analysts put together a free list of nine high-yielding stocks that should be in every income investor's portfolio. To learn the identity of these stocks instantly and for free, all you have to do is click here now.

Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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