The critical and commercial success of 2014's The LEGO Movie opened the door for Warner Bros. to develop an entire film franchise based on the iconic toy, and those plans are put into full effect this year. Before the original movie gets a direct sequel in 2019, the studio will release two spinoffs in 2017. The LEGO Batman Movie opens later this week, and the fall sees the premiere of The LEGO Ninjago Movie. The latter is based on the product line that's been around since 2011, one that received a TV series back in 2012. Jackie Chan stars as Sensei Wu, leading an A-list ensemble that includes the vocal talents of Olivia Munn, Dave Franco, Michael Peña, and others.
WB has started to get the ball rolling on Ninjago promotion, unveiling a collection of images that showcase Wu, his allies, and the movie's main villain. It's only a matter of time until the film's first trailer makes its way online, and now fans know when that will be. In a short teaser video (watch it above), it's revealed the initial preview will be available tomorrow, just a couple of days ahead of LEGO Batman's debut.
The clip sets up the basic premise of the story. Wu takes it upon himself to establish a secret ninja force to protect his island home of Ninjago from an invading threat (briefly seen in the footage). When Wu asks his students if they are ready to give their life for the cause, most of the ninjas in training confirm they are, but there's one who isn't so sure. It's an amusing moment that's very much in line with the now established LEGO sense of humor. The teaser then cuts to the film's logo, accompanied by Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" - which could be Ninjago's main soundtrack in the early stage of marketing.
Though its filmography has just three entries to date (including Ninjago), WB has quickly found a voice and approach for the LEGO franchise. For the most part, they strive to be equal parts spoof and heartfelt message, crafting an emotionally-driven story around a series of rapid fire pop culture gags that poke fun at everything the filmmakers can think of. LEGO Batman, based on the early reviews, seems to be an entertaining send-up of the superhero genre (and Batman movies in general), so it stands reason to believe Ninjago will riff on traditional martial arts film tropes. Having Chan, a veteran of such productions, lead the way here should pay off nicely, as he'll likely provide a fun interpretation of the wise old mentor archetype.
Time will tell if Nanjago can maintain the series' forward momentum in terms of reviews and box office performance, but all signs are pointing to another hit for the studio. WB seems to have a strong handle on the property, and they're sticking to that formula again here. If all goes right, Ninjago will be another exciting installment in the LEGO films, offering something brand new for fans to follow.
Source: Warner Bros.
- The LEGO Ninjago Movie (2017) release date: Sep 22, 2017