When producer Dan Lin sat down with The Hollywood Reporter for the Animator Roundtable, he said it was a big challenge going to rights holders of each individual character and telling them how they were going to “Lego-ize” their properties. Lin said it was important for the rights holder to understand that they “were approaching everything form a source of comedy, but also being true to who your character is.”
Lin also talked about approaching Warner Bros. for permission to include a comical Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) in the animated feature.
“We approached Warners and also Christopher Nolan,” he recounted.
The producers wanted to ask the permission of both parties, as Warner Bros. (which distributed The Lego Movie) owns the rights to the DC superhero and Nolan acted as producer-director for the ultra-lucrative Dark Knight franchise.
“We pitched it a different kind of Batman,” Lin explained. “You guys have your live-action Batman, and we will have what we call the Lego Batman. As soon as they understood that they were different universes—they have their DC universe and we have our Lego Batman version—it worked out okay.”
The Lego Movie went on to gross over $450 million worldwide. Now, Lin says, they are “deep in production” on a stand-alone Lego Batman movie, out 2018, with Arnett returning to voice Batman.
Lin made his comments during the Animator Roundtable, which also featured Tomm Moore (Song of the Sea), Travis Knight (The Boxtrolls), Jorge Gutierrez (The Book of Life), Bonnie Arnold (How to Train Your Dragon 2) and Don Hall ( Big Hero 6).