This year's animated critical/box office hit The LEGO Movie, in many ways, satirizes and pokes fun at Hollywood's love of building (pun intended) franchises, where by the numbers (read: easy to sell) installments can be quickly churned out and moved along down the assembly line. That makes it more than a tad ironic that Warner Bros. is now franchising the LEGO film brand like there's no tomorrow.
Case in point, the studio has ninja-themed spinoff Ninjago arriving in 2016, and had previously scheduled the LEGO Movie sequel to reach theaters in 2017 (with dates in 2018 and 2019 reportedly set aside for additional LEGO films). However, now Warner Bros. is apparently changing its game plan a little, on the LEGO cinema front.
THR is reporting that the movie spinoff LEGO Batman - with Will Arnett reprising his voice role as the title character (who was introduced in LEGO Movie) - has been fast-tracked for development, and may end up taking the May 2017 release date currently reserved for LEGO Movie 2. The LEGO Batman script is currently being written by Seth Grahame-Smith, who penned the historical fantasy/horror movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and wrote the source material for the upcoming genre mashup Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
LEGO Movie animation supervisor Chris McKay had originally been assigned to call the shots on LEGO Movie 2, but according to the THR report he will instead be serving at the helm on LEGO Batman first. It's possible that the LEGO Movie sequel will get a new director altogether, depending on how far back WB decides to push it; if the film get delayed to the aforementioned 2018 date, though, it's safe to assume that McKay won't be its helmsman.
McKay's previous experience includes work on Adult Swim's stop-motion pop culture parody show Robot Chicken, so there's a sporting chance that he'll bring a similar cheeky sense of humor to the LEGO Batman spinoff. That would be the same kind of approach that helped make both the original LEGO Movie (and, in turn, Arnett's vocal performance riffing on the Christian Bale Batman mannerisms) so much fun in the first place. (LEGO Movie co-director Chris Miller has called McKay the "unheralded hero" of the first LEGO flick.)
Grahame-Smith, admittedly, inspires less confidence, seeing how his first two movie scripts (Dark Shadows and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) were generally not well-received. That said, he's a storyteller with an offbeat sense of humor that ought to gel with McKay's - and chances are that Grahame-Smith won't end up being the sole writer on the LEGO Batman screenplay, anyway (unlike on his previous two films).
Basically, out of all the potential LEGO Movie spinoffs that WB might've selected to move forward with first, LEGO Batman perhaps makes the most sense (and with good reason, given how much fun Arnett's character is). So, here's to hoping that the final movie result turns out well.
We'll let you know when LEGO Batman gets an official release date.