Warner Bros.’ The LEGO Movie was a critical darling and box office smash when it hit theaters last year, and the powers that be behind the animated feature certainly sat up and took notice of this. The studio, as of right now, is developing three more LEGO film installments: Ninjago, based on the ninja-themed LEGO toy line, for release in 2016; LEGO Batman, based around the title character (as voiced by Will Arnett) in the LEGO Movie, for 2017; and The LEGO Movie 2, a direct sequel to the original movie, expected to arrive in 2018.
LEGO Movie co-writers/directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are now penning the script for the sequel. The pair have spoken about the creative challenges presented by not just this project but all LEGO-related films (which they are producing), be it creating a distinct identity for each one or making these films more balanced, in terms of gender representation… But are the duo planning to direct the sequel (or any of the new LEGO features)?
Well, according to new interview excepts released by Empire (from their previous discussion with Lord and Miller back in November), the answer is… no; or, rather, probably not. However, in those same quotes, Lord and Miller also discuss why that’s actually a good thing; not just because the duo are rather busy at the moment (though that’s surely a factor), but also because it means different storytellers – with their own unique approaches and interests – will now get their own chance to play in the LEGO cinematic sandbox that Lord and Miller helped to build.
Miller: “[On directing ‘The LEGO Movie 2’] I don’t think so. We’re writing the sequel right now and obviously producing all the other ones. There’s a challenge to make each one feel like its own thing. Part of the fun is finding people like Charlie [Bean], who’s doing the Ninjago movie, and [‘LEGO Batman’ director] Chris McKay who did so much on the first film. Each of them have their own distinct voices and ideas for tone. So it will each have its own personality and not just be, ‘Hey, remember that last movie? Here’s another one just like it!” So that’s been a big challenge but so far it’s been going better than I expected.”
Lord: “I think it’s nice for all these other films to have their own voice and that’s what’s neat about working with all these other filmmakers. They come up with solutions you wouldn’t think of. Watching Charlie Bean’s sequences for Ninjago is so gratifying because he’s able to make it play without any dialogue and has a really great visual style. It’s really nice and refreshing. I think it would get boring if we directed them all, quite honestly.”
Indeed, part of what’s been so refreshing about Lord and Miller’s filmography to date is that their various projects have all managed to all be different thematically (even as they feature consistent types of self-reflexive humor), while sometimes drawing from similarly dubious previously-established properties and/or source material. Miller said the pair intend to keep on pushing themselves; thus, LEGO Movie 2 won’t have the same angle as their work on 22 Jump Street, in which “we did the whole making fun of yourself for just doing the same thing again.”
Part of the reason that Lord and Miller ultimately decided to co-write the LEGO Movie script, as it were, is because they weren’t the first screenwriters to take a crack at the screenplay; and thus, they could build on the foundation that other scribes had already begun to lay down.
Miller: “We thought we’d said everything we wanted to say about creativity and imagination and the inherent nature of Lego, and that left-brain/right-brain nature. So we were scared about trying to write something that felt like the next chapter and new ideas and not just a rehash.”
Lord: “We also worried we didn’t have enough time. Luckily, [Chris] McKay and Jared [Stern] and Michelle [Morgan] all worked on the movie a bit in our absence and really cracked the beginnings of a story and got us really excited; excited enough to write it. We should be writing right now. We’ve opened a Final Draft document and titled it. I mean, that’s really the hardest part. And we’ve chosen the formatting. That is all that’s happened so far. We’ve been outlining a bunch.”
Obviously, we’re still a ways away from LEGO Movie 2 reaching theaters – three years in fact – but Miller teased Empire that he and Lord have been playing around with ideas about (SPOILER) the young boy from the real-world scenes in LEGO Movie and how, four years after those events (keeping up with real-time between installments), “When he’s an adolescent how does that change his point of view?” That’s a good, and rather intriguing, question to think about…
Ninjago opens in theaters on September 23, 2016, with LEGO Batman following on May 26th, 2017. and The LEGO Movie 2 arriving on May 25th, 2018.