Universal Pictures finalized a five-year exclusive development, production and theatrical distribution deal with the LEGO Group, according to Deadline.
Universal’s animation division, Illumination Entertainment, has been a successful venture, putting out The Secret Life of Pets and Despicable Me film series.The Lego movie franchise has earned $1 billion in box office revenue. LEGO’s 2014 film The Lego Movie grossed $468 million worldwide, leading to spinoffs with diminishing returns like The Lego Batman Movie from 2017, The Lego Ninjago Movie and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.
The new deal is the product of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Chairman Donna Langley, and Jill Wilfert, Head of Entertainment of the LEGO Group.
“The LEGO System in Play gives people the ability to build worlds and create stories that they carry throughout every phase of their lives,” Langley said in a statement via Deadline. “To partner with such an iconic brand that remains relevant and is constantly evolving allows for creativity in storytelling. We’re thrilled to start building out the next chapter of LEGO movies together with Jill and the LEGO team as they continue to inspire curiosity and innovation.”
The LEGO films were at Warner Brothers, but Lego has been exploring its options since early fall 2019, when its contract expired. Wilfert will produce all Lego projects for Universal. “Universal’s commitment to unique storytelling from diverse voices makes the Studio the perfect partner as the LEGO Group enters this new phase of filmmaking,” Wilfert said. “Donna and the entire Universal team bring a sense of wonder and imagination we share, and we can’t wait to execute on our shared vision.”
Between its retail stores, theme parks, and partnerships, LEGO became the world’s largest toy company in 2015. The movie deal does not apply to LEGO Land and LEGO theme parks, which are still owned by Merlin Entertainment. The next LEGO-inspired feature film will be produced by Wilfert, along with Rideback’s Dan Lin, who produced all previous LEGO features, and Jonathan Eirich.
This isn’t the first time Universal and LEGO have worked together. They collaborated on Jurassic World: The Secret Exhibit a two-part CG-animated TV special that worked as a building block prequel to the 2015 film Jurassic World. They followed it up with the 13-episode mini-series LEGO Jurassic World: Legend of Isla Nublar.
The new deal opens up the possibilities of LEGO treatments on the Universal monsters. A Fast and Furious Lego treatment could also be fast-tracked.