Update: Box Office Mojo’s report for weekend earnings at the box office has the LEGO Movie way up top with $69.1 million pulled in Friday and Saturday, exceeding the film’s budget by $9 milllion. The total amounted to more than half of the earnings that Ride Along took in a full four weeks, including three weeks at No. 1 in the box office. The Monuments Men came in second at the weekend box office and took a much smaller — but decent — $22.7 million. It will still be a little while before the Monuments Men makes up for its $70 million budget.
As the continued success story of Kevin Hart and Ice Cube’s critically-panned but fan-loved Ride Along nears its inevitable fall from the top of the box office charts, a new contender is stepping up to the plate and bringing with it brand recognition that will hit home with multiple generations — LEGO.
While many of us grew up with the miniature plastic bricks forming everything from castles and dungeons, to cities and police cars, to sub-aquatic bases with complex submarines for mining shiny plastic crystals from the bottom of the living room, the LEGO universe has been expanding in recent years.
No longer is the LEGO brand limited to just plastic bricks. In the past decade, LEGO has been popping up consistently in well-reviewed video games — willfully ignoring the older LEGO Island video games. As franchises like Star Wars had their toys successfully LEGO-ized, it only made sense to take the next step and have video games based on those franchises also brushed over with a bit of LEGO style. The result was comical and cute versions of games that actually turned out fun.
LEGO Star Wars kicked off the brand’s deep delve into video games, and it received a Metacritic score of 77. The games successors, LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, and LEGO Stars Wars III: The Clone Wars also received high reviews from Metacritic – 81, 80, and 75, respectively. The entire set of those four games had sold over 30 million copies as of January 2013, Gamespot reports.
The brand branched out even further to include Indiana Jones titles and many DC superheroes as well. LEGO Batman: The Game was another notable title with good reviews. With all the success and brand recognition, it almost makes one wonder what took the company so long in making a movie.
The viability of toy-based movies has been made quite clear by the likes of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and its sequel, Transformers, as well as its continuing sequels and Disney’s Toy Story series. The three Toy Story films made a combined domestic gross of $852.5 million, with each successive film earning more than the last, according to BoxOfficeMojo. The two G.I. Joe films made a combined domestic gross of $272.7 million, and the Transformers films made $1.07 billion with each successive film also make more than the last.
According to RottenTomatoes, The LEGO Movie already has a 100 percent Fresh rating. Of the over 28,000 people who have voted on the site, 96 percent have expressed interest in seeing the film after it’s released this Friday. Thinking back to the sales numbers on the video game series LEGO has released, there’s no doubt the film will get incredible viewership.
The film doesn’t stand alone on just the strength of its brand name, either. With director Phil Lord bringing his experience making successful children’s movies and comedies to the film, along with a star-studded cast of actors lending their voices — Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, and Elizabeth Banks among them – The LEGO Movie won’t be lacking talent.
Also coming out this Friday is Sony Pictures’ The Monuments Men. It may put up strong competition gunning for the No. 1 spot in the box office this weekend, as it has a strong cast including stars Matt Damon, George Clooney, and Bill Murray. However, The Monuments Men doesn’t have the same critical reception of its competitor – RottenTomatoes only gives it a score of 45 percent Fresh.
Judging from the trailer, The Monuments Men’s plot seems to stand somewhere between Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Saving Private Ryan, and an Indiana Jones movie without the lean towards the supernatural. Unfortunately for the film, it just hasn’t been getting the same critical reception of the latter films, even falling short of competing with the widely disparaged Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
The Monuments Men is the next film in George Clooney’s hit-or-miss work as a director. Though he has managed to pull of some successful films — namely The Ides of March; Good Night, and Good Luck; and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind — he’s also made a few flops.
Of course, just because critics haven’t looked favorably upon Clooney’s film doesn’t mean that it will necessarily be dead on arrival in theaters. Ride Along has been the perfect example of a critical underdog being held up in theaters by the fans. Critics gave the film a far lower rating than they gave The Monuments Men, and the former still managed to hold the top box office spot for three weekends straight even with higher-rated films coming in to challenge its place. On top of that, The Monuments Men also has a higher percentage of a bigger voting body saying that they want to see the movie, according to RottenTomatoes.
With both films being released on Friday, the contest will begin soon, and in the absence of many other serious competitors, look for it to be a fierce battle.
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