How the Minds Behind ‘The LEGO Movie’ Are Now Ruling Hollywood
Being a part of a major film franchise is a tall order for any writer/director. It involves jumping into an already established product, with strict guidelines from the overseeing studio on things like tone, casting, and even the runtime. The only thing more difficult than this is heading up your own franchise, with expectations running even higher for a fledging film series. In just the last couple years, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have managed to accomplish both of these things to massive success.
Lord and Miller have proven themselves to be a powerful team, having rebooted a beloved TV series in two successful movies, created their own animated movie empire, and been tagged to write and direct films in not one, but two of the biggest film franchises in Hollywood today. In the midst of all this, they’ve put out a TV show of their very own and have seen their names thrown around in just about every project in need of creative talent. It’s not hard to make an argument for Lord and Miller as the most successful team in the industry today, and here’s why.
1. The Lego Movie and beyond
There was a fair amount of speculation leading up to the release of The Lego Movie. The main fear was that the movie would essentially be a 2-hour toy advertisement short of substance. With Transformers as our only previous example in the “toys turned into film franchises” genre, you couldn’t blame critics for their skepticism. What we got instead though was a Pixar-quality journey filled with clever humor and genuine emotion. Almost half a billion dollars in box office money later, Lord and Miller have been given the keys to a full-on Lego empire.
The current plan for now is to capitalize on the popularity of Will Arnett’s take on the Lego Dark Knight, and parlay that into a Lego Batman releasing in 2017. After that, Lord and Miller are signed on as producers for a Ninjago movie, and then finally back to writing and directing for The Lego Movie Sequel. Beyond that, we imagine the studio will give the green-light to any Lego-related idea the team has, putting them in charge of a insanely lucrative franchise for the very first time.
2. Moving into superheroes for both Marvel and DC
There are few (if any) creative types in Hollywood that work on both sides of the aisle in terms of the superhero arms race. Either you’re on Team Snyder over on the Warner/DC side of the fence, or Team Feige on Marvel’s. Miller and Lord though have projects for both on the docket. In terms of Marvel properties (or more specifically, Sony), they’re working on an animated Spider-Man movie releasing in 2018, while DC has them on board for a treatment of their script for the upcoming Flash movie. Between these two projects, it’s safe to say the pair can handle the complex realm of comic books.
3. Ruling over their own television empire
Lord and Miller are no strangers to the realm of TV, having been the original force behind the cult-favorite cartoon, Clone High. More recently though, they’re seeing success with FOX’s The Last Man On Earth. The series is dripping with their offbeat sense of humor, telling the story of Phil Miller (a not-so-coincidental) combination of Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s names), and his adventures on a semi-desolate future Earth. Before that ever debuted, they also wrote and directed the pilot for the wildly popular Brooklyn Nine-Nine, making it so you can’t swing a cat without hitting one of their primetime comedy series.
4. Star Wars – no really, they’re also doing Star Wars
It hardly seems fair that two people should get to run a popular animated franchise, a primetime network comedy, and work on two separate superhero projects. The icing on the cake: Lord and Miller getting tagged to direct the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology movie. It’s no small order to made responsible for the origin story of the most popular Star Wars character in the entire expanded universe. Combined with everything else in their ever-growing IMDB resumé, it pretty much cements their status as Hollywood elites.
5. The return of Jump Street
Back in the late ’80s/early ’90s, 21 Jump Street was one of the era’s most iconic and popular police procedurals, starring future Hollywood heavyweight Johnny Depp in one of the lead roles. Two decades later, Lord and Miller stepped in to bring us a surprisingly great reboot by the same name, behind the comedic talents of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum (whoda thunk, right?). A solid follow-up effort soon followed, with 22 Jump Street grossing $331 million on the strength of a stellar 85% Rotten Tomatoes score. A third sequel is already in the works, with talk even floating around of a just-so-crazy-it-could-work Jump Street/Men in Black crossover.
Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest