Universal, Lego in Talks for Film Partnership

Lego Movie still with inset of Dan Lin- GETTY-H 2019
Warner Bros./Photofest; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
The popular toy brand has been exploring its options since early fall, when its pact with Warner Bros. expired.

The Lego movie business is being rebuilt.

The popular toy brand is in talks with Universal for an exclusive partnership that would see the studio produce a new batch of movies centered on the toys.

Dan Lin and his Rideback banner, who produced previous Lego feature films, are in talks to remain the producers in any new deal.

Lego has been exploring its options since early fall, when its pact with Warner Bros. expired. That partnership initially shot out of the gate with much success. The Lego Movie, released in 2014, garnered much acclaim as well as box office gold, overcoming naysayers who believed such a nakedly corporate branded movie would fail.

A spinoff focusing on Batman was also a hit in early 2017, and Warners planned a whole slate around Lego. But the failure of The Ninjago Movie in late 2017 caused a retrenchment, and after the failure of this year’s Lego Movie: The Second Part, Lego began rethinking its deal.

Sources say many studios courted Lego, one of the biggest toy brands on the planet that has grown even bigger over the last two decades since it began making sets based on licensed properties. Its movies have also been a boon to the company, raising its profile even more.

Lego and Universal seem to be a good fit on paper. The studio is light on name-brand franchises, unlike rivals Paramount, which has movies based on Hasbro toys; Sony, which has Spider-Man franchises; and the big behemoth, Disney.

Universal’s most established franchise, Fast & Furious, is still chugging along, although it is unclear whether this summer's Hobbs & Shaw spinoff proved there was any drive for more. Its Jurassic Park/World franchise is a success, but comes at an intermittent pace. And it does have animation fare via Illumination and DreamWorks. But the studio needs name-brand recognition and more reliable output, something Lego would provide. Universal is also launching a streaming service, so Lego could feed into that, as well.