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Bright yellow, Lego-shaped foam fingers cheered on animated ninja warriors at the L.A. premiere of The Lego Ninjago Movie this week.
Fans joined the voice cast — including Jackie Chan, Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Olivia Munn, Abbi Jacobson and Fred Armisen — to celebrate the upcoming Lego film. Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara and president worldwide marketing and distribution Sue Kroll were in attendance, plus stars such as Tori Spelling, Tamera Mowry-Housley and Joel McHale also showed their support by bringing their children to the premiere.
Prior to the premiere, director Charlie Bean told The Hollywood Reporter about how he added his own creativity to a beloved toy he grew up with. “It’s not just a toy that you play with. You can build and add your own creativity to it,” Bean said. “It challenges us and pushes our own creativity and how we build, and I think that never goes away. When I first came back into this film, I went back and got a bunch of Legos and was like, ‘This is still really fun.’”
Producer Chris McKay assured THR that the film goes beyond a traditional “kid’s movie.” “[We] tried to make something that’s fun for kids and fun for adults, and it’s kind of as thrilling as what I grew up on. Our philosophy is a bit of a punk rock philosophy where we want to make it feel like the filmmakers are getting away with something.”
Chan (who voices Master Wu), made a rare red-carpet appearance and had a chance to share why, as a skilled mixed-martial artist, he decided to join this film. “I think I can introduce my martial arts to the young kids. Martial arts is about [protection], it’s not attacking. Martial arts is about respecting everything — your family, the nature, the people, a country. If everybody understands everybody, then [there is] no more war, and always peace.”
He continued: “That’s what I want. And I want every year to do something for adult[s], [and to] do something for the young kids. I know kids like this kind of movie [and] through the movie I can speak my message. That’s most important.”
Franco (Lloyd), who worked with Chan for the first time on the film, praised Chan’s appeal both on- and off-camera at the film’s premiere. “[Jackie’s] a sweetheart, he immediately makes you feel at ease and doesn’t have a very foreboding presence as you might imagine because of his legendary status. He’s very welcoming, he’s very sweet and as charming as you would expect,” Franco said.
Theroux, who voices Lord Garmadon, talked about the importance of family dynamics (one of the themes explored in the film), and explained how Ninjago creates a tasteful representation of serious topics — intertwined with Legos.
“The themes in it are very family oriented — just to speak to some of the larger themes that families go through — families that have single parents and things like that. It’s about understanding that dynamic. I love the storyline, and the themes of family,” he said.
Although Ninjago does have serious tones, the actor added, “The Lego movies are just so ridiculously funny, I just love that they have these jokes that will skip over the heads of kids and make the parents crack up, and skip over the parents’ heads and makes the kids crack up.”
After the film screening, a Ninjago-themed party fitting for both grown-ups and children featured ninja-themed food stations including poke, free-range fried chicken, burgers, fries, Dylan’s Candy Shop sweets, shaved ice and ice cream sandwiches. Guests also had the opportunity to take pictures with the cast and life-size Legos from the movie.
The Lego Ninjago Movie hits theaters Sept. 22.
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