With over $200 million in box office receipts worldwide, a sequel to The LEGO Movie is already in the works. Warner Bros. hired Jared Stern to write the follow-up last month. The studio is also planning on expanding the Lego universe with the stand-alone LEGO Ninjago movie. Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman starting writing the script in June, although Warner Bros. currently faces a dilemma, as to which of these two movies will hit theaters first.
Warner Bros.' greenlight committee is currently tasked with deciding whether or not they will move forward with both projects at the same time. The studio previously had a November 2013 deadline from LEGO regarding the LEGO Ninjago project, but sources say the toy company has granted an extension. LEGO Ninjago is an important project for the studio, since they currently only have rights to one sequel for The LEGO Movie, and it is believed that Warner's can strengthen their relationship with LEGO by moving forward with LEGO Ninjago before The Lego Movie 2.
Sources claim that both LEGO and producers Dan Lin and Roy Lee are free to take the property to another studio after The LEGO Movie sequel. The producers are expected to stay at the studio, if the franchise should move somewhere else, since they both have first-look deals with Warner Bros.
Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman, who created the popular Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu animated TV series and received story credit on The LEGO Movie, are also expected to be involved in both projects. LEGO Ninjago is viewed as more of a risky proposition, since the toy line and TV series are more aimed towards young boys, with the story said to be an action-adventure with comedic elements, as opposed to the straight comedy of The LEGO Movie. However, both writers cited a recent study which revealed that 30% of Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu's viewers were female.
Here's what Dan Hageman had to say about the "curse" of The LEGO Movie's success.
"The success of The LEGO Movie is great, but it's also a burden and a curse. It set the bar really high for the franchise."
Charlie Bean (The Powerpuff Girls Movie, Tron Uprising) is set to direct LEGO Ninjago, with Dan Lin, Roy Lee and The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller producing. The story is set in a world dubbed Ninjago, inspired by Japanese and Chinese cultures. The main character is Kai, described as "the red ninja of fire," in a story that will not be connected to the Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu TV series. These cultural elements will likely help attract more moviegoers in international markets as well.