For Warner Bros, a ‘cinematic universe’ built of Lego bricks

The Lego Ninjago Movie

Lego and Warner Bros. Entertainment seem to be perfect partners: One is a multinational toy company in search of expansion, and the other is a global entertainment giant looking for more content.

But as both ramp up promotion for the September release of their third film together, “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” some are wondering whether the cinematic landscape is cluttered with too many Lego bricks.

“The Lego Movie” was a surprise smash in 2014, costing about $60 million to make and collecting $469.2 million worldwide. A sequel to that film is planned for 2019. But a related follow-up to the original, “The Lego Batman Movie,” released in February, took in only $311 million, in part because girls were not as interested. And now, a short seven months later, comes “Ninjago.”

The stakes are high for Warner Bros. Few films on its schedule are more important than “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” which it sees as part of a continuing “cinematic universe” and a pillar for the studio, with additional original installments and sequels exploring different genres planned for the next decade and beyond.

But Ninjago is more than just a movie for Lego. The brand was introduced in 2011 with a martial-arts themed line of toys and a TV series. Lego anticipated a short life span, but consumer response was stronger than expected, so Lego brought it back in 2014 with new building sets and new seasons of the TV series.

“There is an affinity for the property,” said Michael McNally, the senior director of brand relations for Lego.

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