'Lego' clicks with audiences, toys with 'Monuments Men'

05:00 AM, Feb 09, 2014

"The Lego Movie" was a hit with critics and moviegoers alike. Warner Bros. Picture/


Written By by Scott Bowles, USA TODAY

Brand names pummeled big names at theaters this weekend as The Lego Movie steamrolled at the box office.

The film version of the 70-year-old toy snapped up $69.1 million, according to studio estimates from Rentrak.

The debut exceeded many analysts’ lofty expectations and was plenty enough to leave George Clooney’s World War II film The Monuments Men a distant second. The movie, which also featured Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett, collected a solid $22.7 million, eclipsing projections by more than $2 million.

But it was no match for Lego, which follows Transformers and G.I. Joe as toys that made the successful leap from shelf to screen. Like those franchises, Lego likely ensures it will become a series with the weekend haul, analysts say.

Now more than ever, studios are constantly looking to make movies out of pre-existing brands,” says Ray Subers of Box Office Mojo. “Conventional wisdom holds that these brands come with a built-in fan base, which in turn means it’s easier to sell the big-screen version at home and abroad.”

So brace yourself for the toy invasion. Among those headed to theaters:

  • Ouija: The spooky board game gets the big-screen treatment Oct. 24.
  • Monopoly: Ridley Scott is attached to produce the film, set to begin production next summer.
  • Candy Land: Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company will produce the film version of the toddler’s board game. No release date is set.
  • Lego proved a snap-fit for critics and fans, as the animated comedy became the best-reviewed film of 2014. About 95% of critics recommended it, says survey site Rotten Tomatoes, while audiences gave it an A, according to pollsters CinemaScore. The strong reviews and young fan base should ensure repeat viewing and keep it among the top films for weeks.

    Monuments’ future is less certain. Just a third of reviewers gave the movie a thumbs-up, though the adult-skewing picture scored a B-plus with audiences, CinemaScore says.

    Kevin Hart’s cop comedy Ride Along fell from the top spot for the first time in three weeks, taking third with $9.4 million.

    The animated film Frozen was fourth with $6.9 million, followed by That Awkward Moment ($5.5 million). Final figures are expected Monday.

    The only other newcomer, the critically ravaged comedy Vampire Academy, managed a meager $4.1 million and seventh place.