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Lego, Universal Lego, Universal

Half a year after Lego’s pact with Warner Bros. fell apart, the movie franchise is being cobbled back together.

The toy brick titan has signed a new film partnership with Universal Pictures.

Here are the details:

  • Universal and Lego have signed a five-year exclusive deal to develop, produce, and theatrically distribute films inspired by the bricks, according to Deadline. That last commitment is significant, given the immense strain placed on theatrical exhibition by the coronavirus crisis, and the fact that Universal’s parent company NBCUniversal is about to launch the streaming service Peacock.
  • The deal was spearheaded by Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, and Jill Wilfert, head of entertainment of the LEGO Group. Wilfert will produce all of Universal’s Lego projects. The next Lego film will also be produced by Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich through their Rideback banner. Lin produced the previous Lego movies, too.
  • It was reported in December that Lego was looking for a new production partner after Warner Bros. declined to renew their pact, effectively walking away from a franchise that had grossed over $1.1 billion across four movies. At the time, Universal was said to be the frontrunner in negotiations with Lego.
  • The Lego Movie was released in 2014 to unexpected success. It grossed $468 million worldwide, garnered praise for its wit (much of it due to its writer-directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller), and launched a franchise — as well as a glut of toy-inspired animated movies. But the franchise didn’t sustain that early success. Last year’s The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (pictured at top) took only $191 million.
  • Universal is home to Dreamworks Animation, Illumination Entertainment, as well as the Jurassic World franchise, the latter of which has already prompted a Lego-Universal partnership to create the tv special Jurassic World: The Secret Exhibit and series Lego Jurassic World: Legend of Isla Nublar. Expect more crossovers between the toys and Universal’s other studios and franchises.
  • Swiftly following the news of the Lego-Universal Pictures pact, it was announced that the toy company had also struck a deal with Universal Music Group. Details are scarce, but the resulting products, due out in 2021, will aim to “celebrate and expand children’s creativity and passion for music.” The Hollywood Reporter has more.

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