The LEGO Movie was a surprise animated smash-hit when it arrived in theaters, earning much in the way of critical acclaim and kicking off a lucrative multimedia franchise for Warner Bros. Pictures in the process. A pair of spinoff films are hitting theaters in 2017, in the forms of DC Comics-flavored superhero romp The LEGO Batman Movie – with Will Arnett reprising his eponymous role from LEGO Movie – and the kung fu-style adventure, The LEGO Ninjago Movie. Meanwhile, progress continues to be made on a direct followup to LEGO Movie, under a title that’s in keeping with the current branding approach for the LEGO film series: The LEGO Movie Sequel.
LEGO Movie writers/directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller wrote the first script draft for The LEGO Movie Sequel, but first handed off the responsibility of directing to Chris McKay – The LEGO Movie animation supervisor, who is now directing The LEGO Batman Movie instead – while Lord and Miler work on Lucasfilm’s young Han Solo movie. Fellow animation comedy filmmaker Rob Schrab was subsequently brought onboard to helm The LEGO Movie Sequel in McKay’s place, but the latter has now stepped down from the project and been replaced, too.
THR is reporting that Schrab has left The LEGO Movie Sequel over “creative differences” and that Mike Mitchell is now onboard to direct the sequel in his place, drawing from the revised script draft written by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (creator of BoJack Horseman) and based on Lord and Miller’s initial draft. Mitchell is fresh off directing the animated musical Trolls for DreamWorks Animation, with his previous animated directing credits also including Shrek Forever After (another DreamWorks title).
The most recent slate of developments concerning The LEGO Movie Sequel – now scheduled to hit theaters in 2019 rather than 2018 as initially planned – read as being a mixed blessing, all things considered. Bob-Waksberg reads as a good fit for the LEGO Movie franchise’s storytelling sensibilities, based on his own pop culture-savvy, often surreal and sometime even poignant animated comedy work on BoJack Horseman for Netflix. Mitchell, on the other hand, has his fair share of perfectly serviceable family-friendly animated films under his belt at this stage in his career, but he has yet to helm a proper critical darling on the same level as either Lord and Miller’s LEGO Movie or their previous comparable output (see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs).
Another factor to consider: WB’s plans for the LEGO film franchise is general may have significantly changed, by the time The LEGO Movie Sequel arrives on the scene. Depending on how both LEGO Batman Movie and LEGO Ninjago Movie perform at the box office, WB might be inclined to focus more on similar spinoffs (based around either popular LEGO characters or genre-themed LEGO properties) and less so on direct continuations of the original LEGO Movie‘s narrative. Similar to how fans are speculating that Lucasfilm may focus solely on Star Wars spinoff films after Episode IX hits theaters, it’s plausible WB will take a similar approach with its LEGO films.
If this happens, then there will be less pressure on The LEGO Movie Sequel to replicate either the critical or commercial success of its predecessor. Either way, the hope is that the sequel is done playing musical chairs with its directors at this point and that Mitchell will instead be able to focus solely on making the LEGO Movie followup as good as it can be. In the meantime, the LEGO universe will face its next big test at the box office a week from today (at the time of writing this), when LEGO Batman’s adventure arrives on the scene.