Warner Bros. Builds a Hit with 'The Lego Movie'

With an opening weekend box office of $69.1 million, Warner Bros. "The Lego Movie" is a major hit. Is this just the start of bigger and better things in animation from Warner Bros. Pictures?

Feb 10, 2014 at 10:23AM

When it was first announced, The Lego Movie likely wasn't at the top of many must-see lists. Once Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) Warner Bros. studio started releasing trailers and clips for the movie, though, that changed. On its opening weekend, The Lego Movie earned an estimated $69.1 million, giving it the second-largest February opening of all time, behind only The Passion of the Christ and the $89 million it earned when it was released in 2004.

Perhaps more importantly, the film has been earning glowing reviews from critics and moviegoers alike. Aggregate review scores at Rotten Tomatoes have the film currently at 95% fresh from critics (with an average review score of 8.2 out of 10 from 122 reviews) and an audience rating of 93% fresh (with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 from 42,393 users.) Similar results can be found at MetaCritic, where the film currently has a Metascore of 82 (based on 38 reviews) and a user score of 9.1 (based on 121 ratings.)

Dominating the box office
The Lego Movie's impressive take put it clearly in first place for the weekend, beating out the no. 2 film The Monuments Men by nearly three times the latter's take. Distributed by Sony's (NYSE:SNE) Sony Pictures, the George Clooney-directed World War II film brought in a respectable $22.7 million on its opening weekend. Third place was captured by Ride Along, the Ice Cube-starring buddy cop film that had held the top spot for the past three weeks. The film earned only $9.3 million, though this helped it to cross the $100-million mark for $105 million in total domestic earnings.

It remains to be seen whether the film will hold on to the no. 1 spot for longer than a week, however. Sony Pictures is releasing RoboCop on Feb. 12, which should be the primary competition for The Lego Movie heading into the Valentine's Day weekend. The following weekend, Sony Pictures' Pompeii will release to add more competition to the box-office struggle. The positive word-of-mouth for The Lego Movie might help it to overcome, though, so this might not be the only weekend that the film rules.

What's the appeal?
The Lego Movie had two things in its favor going into the opening weekend. The first was a general lack of family-friendly offerings in the theaters of late, with the exception of Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Frozen (and the subsequent "sing-along" rerelease of the film), many of the films being released lately have been aimed more at adults. The Lego Movie also had a strong marketing campaign behind it that showed off the fact that despite being about Lego minifigs, it had smart and funny writing that helps the wide range of characters to interact naturally.

Of course, while these two factors helped to bring audiences in, the quality of the film is what's kept the positive buzz going. Warner Bros. assembled a collective of filmmakers a year ago to begin producing high-quality animated films on a yearly basis, with The Lego Movie being the first release from this "creative consortium." Significant effort was put into making sure that the film would not only meet but exceed expectations and would be on par with anything put out by more renowned animation studios. 

A sequel already?
It's no surprise that a sequel would be an option after The Lego Movie's strong opening, but it might be a bit surprising how quickly Warner Bros. has moved on getting it into development. A script for the sequel was ordered last week, before the film opened, based on initial projections that the movie would have a $60 million opening weekend. Screenwriters Jared Stern and Michelle Morgan, members of the Warner Bros.' creative consortium, have been selected to write the script.

A journey starts with a single brick
With The Lego Movie having such a strong opening and Warner Bros. having the confidence to begin work on a sequel before the original film opened, it's all but a given that it will develop into a full multi-film franchise. It's also a good restart to Warner Bros.' animated offerings, which in the past have had less-than-stellar performances despite some of them being highly beloved films after the fact.

The importance of The Lego Movie is that it not only more than made back its $60 million production budget in a single weekend, but that it showed that Warner can produce funny, polished animated theatrical films that are accepted right alongside releases from major animation studios like Disney.

The next step for you
Want to figure out how to profit on business analysis like this? The key is to learn how to turn business insights into portfolio gold by taking your first steps as an investor. Those who wait on the sidelines are missing out on huge gains and putting their financial futures in jeopardy. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal finance experts show you what you need to get started, and even give you access to some stocks to buy first. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

John Casteele has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. 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.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers