‘Hungry Hungry Hippos’ Joke in ‘The Afterparty’ Almost Really Happened to ‘The Lego Movie’ Creators

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have turned many intellectual properties into successful movies. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was a children’s book. The Lego Movie was based on a toy. 21 Jump Street was based on a TV show. Even Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a bold take on comic book movies. So, when their new series, The Afterparty, includes a fake Hungry Hungry Hippos movie, you know they speak from experience. 

'Hungry Hungry Hippos' star Xavier (Dave Franco) holds a glass of wine in 'The Afterparty'
Dave Franco as Xavier | Apple TV+

Lord and Miller spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet over Zoom on Jan. 13 about their new Apple TV+ series. There is a backstory behind Hungry Hungry Hippos, although nobody suggested they make that movie. New episodes of The Afterparty premiere Fridays on Apple TV+.

‘Hungry Hungry Hippos’ is inspired by ‘The Lego Movie’ success

It’s hard to remember what a risky proposition The Lego Movie was since it turned out so well. But making a movie out of a toy could have turned into a crass commercial in lesser hands. Hollywood has certainly had less success with other properties, and that’s what the Hungry Hungry Hippos joke was about. In The Afterparty, Xavier (Dave Franco) is a successful actor who starred in the Hungry Hungry Hippos movie. 

“Definitely it is based on ideas that have been pitched to us from studios in the past that we decided we were not interested in doing,” Miller told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “But it was not specifically ever pitched to us.”

Lord admitted a little bit of guilt over making The Lego Movie such a success. Although they used the Lego toy to tell a story about creativity itself, Lord recognizes that its success gave studios license to franchise any children’s toy. 

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“I think our worst fear is that people would misinterpret The Lego Movie and think it was a green light to turn every single commercial product into an animated film,” Lord said. “And it came true. We’re sorry, everyone.”

‘The Afterparty’ has something else in common with ‘The Lego Movie’

The Afterparty is about a high school reunion that turns deadly. When Xavier is killed, Det. Danner (Tiffany Haddish) questions all the guests at his afterparty. Each character tells their version of what happened that night, and their stories each represent a different genre. One is an action movie, another is a musical, another a rom-com and another a thriller. Miller reminded viewers that they rarely stick to one genre.

“On Lego Movie we go to the old west and we’re on a pirate ship,” Miller said. “Even in Spider-Verse, we got to have a film noir character and a futuristic robot. We just love film and so we love different ways of storytelling and this was a really fun way to get to do a bunch of that.”

That also meant filming the same scenes multiple different ways. 

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“You don’t get into this for any other reason than to try new things and stretch yourself and be out over your skis,” Lord said. “Everything you do is a prototype or an experimental film so if you’re doing something that you’re comfortable doing, then you’re probably going to do something boring. So yeah, it’s all a blast. You get to flex muscles or build muscles that you don’t have. That’s the point, I think.” 

Will Lord and Miller make more ‘Lego Movie’s?

After The Lego Movie, Lord and Miller also wrote and produced the sequel, and produced the spinoffs The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie. Now, the Lego franchise is moving to Universal, and Lord and Miller aren’t sure if they’ll remain involved. 

“Who knows? Never say never,” Lord said. “We’re really proud of the movies that we made at Warners.  Dan Lin who produces those movies is the greatest guy and I know that he’s cooking up some good stuff.”

Miller added that Lin is developing the next Lego movies, so they are waiting to see if and where they would fit in. 

“Yet to be determined,” Miller said. “Dan Lin, cooking up good stuff.”

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