Warner Bros. is developing multiple new installments in two promising Cinematic Universes that include Batman: the DC live-action Shared Universe, where Ben Affleck shall debut as the Caped Crusader in next year's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice; and the LEGO Cinematic Universe, where the Will Arnett-voiced LEGO Batman (from the Oscar-Nominated hit LEGO Movie) will be getting his own solo movie.
There are other LEGO films in the works; including, the Ninjago feature (based on the ninja-themed LEGO toy-line) and a sequel to The LEGO Movie, titled... well, The LEGO Movie Sequel. WB has done now reshuffling of its planned release schedule for these movies, resulting in Ninjago being delayed by a year - from Fall 2016 to 2017 - while LEGO Movie Sequel remains in May 2018, and LEGO Batman moves to February 2017 (close to exactly three years after the first LEGO Movie).
Meanwhile, Billion Brick Race - another LEGO film being developed by Jason Segel and screenwriter Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3) - is still expected to take the May 2019 date currently reserved for a Warner Animated Feature.
Here is the rundown of the new release dates for upcoming LEGO films (plus their respective director and screenwriter(s)):
- LEGO Batman, directed by Chris McKay (LEGO Movie's animation supervisor) and scripted by Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), will open in theaters on February 10th, 2017, opposite the romantic drama The Mountain Between Us.
- Ninjago, directed by Charlie Bean (TRON: Uprising) and scripted by Dan and Kevin Hageman (Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu), will arrive in theaters on September 22nd, 2017. It's currently the only film set for that date.
- The LEGO Movie Sequel, directed by Rob Schrab (the Community episode "G.I. Jeff") and scripted by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The LEGO Movie), is opening in theaters on May 18th, 2018, a week earlier than previously scheduled.
WB's domestic distribution president, Dan Fellman, commented on the LEGO feature release slate, saying "These three films already in the pipeline are just the beginning of a creative and diverse animation slate that will be delighting audiences for years to come." Of course, Fellman's comment about a "diverse animation slate" calls attention to how each LEGO movie faces the same challenge as other upcoming installments in established franchises: to diversify the brand and create a new chapter that offers a different (and worthwhile) experience, lest moviegoers get tired of what studios are selling.
We've already seen studios taking steps to avoid over-saturating the marketplace by mixing things up with their IPs - be it WB's approach to the DCCU (starting the next era off with Batman V Superman and the super-villain team feature Suicide Squad in 2016), or how Lucasfilm will be alternating between regular Star Wars films and Star Wars Anthology movies (starting with Star Wars: Rogue One in 2016) on an annual basis. Miller, who also co-directed LEGO Movie with Lord, previously spoke about that very issue:
[There’s] a challenge to make each [LEGO film] 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 [each LEGO film] will each have its own personality and not just be, ‘Hey, remember that last movie? Here’s another one just like it!”...
We've already gotten some more specific details on how the various LEGO films will distinguish themselves from one another, while still existing harmoniously in the same cinematic universe. For example, the LEGO Batman movie will explore the different interpretations of the Caped Crusader over the decades - and, at the same time, (humorously) deconstruct Bruce Wayne's emotional well-being.
Similarly, The LEGO Movie Sequel will be influenced by changes in the LEGO Movie version of the real world - like, how "The Boy Upstairs" is now older and that his sister has begun playing with LEGOs, and how that effects the story (for example: more female characters being one such change). That sounds good on paper, but will the execution live up to that promise? We'll see, but here's hoping for the best...
LEGO Batman opens in U.S. theaters on February 10th, 2017, followed by Ninjago on September 22nd, 2017, The LEGO Movie Sequel on May 18th, 2018, and (most likely) Billion Brick Race on May 24th, 2019.
Source: Warner Bros. [via THR]