The film was released on February 7, 2014 by Warner Bros. Pictures to near-unanimous acclaim; critics praised its visual style, humor, voice cast and heartwarming message. It earned more than $257 million in the U.S. and Canada and $210 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of over $469 million. The film won the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film, the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Animated Feature, and the Saturn Award for Best Animated Film; it was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film and an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song for "Everything Is Awesome".
The film has since expanded into a major franchise which ties into the Lego brand, with a sequel to the film, entitled The Lego Movie Sequel, scheduled for release on February 8, 2019. A spin-off film, The Lego Batman Movie, was released to theaters on February 10, 2017, with a second spin-off, The Lego Ninjago Movie, set to be released later in the year, and a third spin-off, The Billion Brick Race, planned for development. The film was dedicated to the memory of Kathleen Fleming, the former director of entertainment development of the Lego company, following her death in Cancun, Mexico in April 2013.
In a Lego world populated by anthropomorphic minifigures, the evil Lord Business finds a super weapon called the "Kragle". The wizard Vitruvius attempts to stop him, but is blinded by Business' robots. Before Business leaves with the weapon, Vitruvius prophesies that a person called "the Special" will find the Piece of Resistance, a brick capable of stopping the Kragle.
Eight and a half years later, construction worker Emmet Brickowski finds a woman called Wyldstyle searching for something at his construction site after hours. When he investigates, Emmet falls into a hole and finds the Piece of Resistance. Compelled to touch it, Emmet experiences vivid visions and passes out. He awakens with the Piece of Resistance attached to his back, in the custody of Bad Cop, Lord Business's lieutenant. Wyldstyle rescues Emmett, believing him to be the Special, and takes him to meet Vitruvius in the Old West. Emmet learns that Wyldstyle and Vitruvius are "Master Builders"—people capable of building anything from their imagination without the need of instructions—who oppose Business. Wyldstyle explains Business wants to use the Kragle, a tube of Krazy Glue with a weathered label, to freeze the world into perfection. Though disappointed to find Emmet is not a Master Builder, Wyldstyle and Vitruvius are convinced of his potential when he recalls visions of a seemingly human deity referred to as "the Man Upstairs".
Emmet, Wyldstyle, and Vitruvius evade Bad Cop's forces with the aid of Batman, Wyldstyle's boyfriend. They go to the hidden Cloud Cuckoo Land, a realm where minifigures can create whatever they desire, to attend a council of Master Builders, all of whom are unimpressed with Emmet and refuse to fight Business. Bad Cop's forces attack, having placed a tracking device on Emmett, and capture everyone except Emmet and a small team of Master Builders. Escaping, Emmet devises a plan to infiltrate Business's office tower and disarm the Kragle, but the group is captured and imprisoned in the Think Tank, where all the Master Builders are forced to make instructions. Trying to retaliate, Vitruvius is decapitated by Business, who sets a self-destruct protocol and leaves everyone to die, including Bad Cop. As he dies, Vitruvius reveals he made up the prophecy. He soon reappears to Emmet as a ghost and tells him that his belief makes him the Special. Strapped to the self-destruct mechanism's battery, Emmet jumps into the abyss outside the tower and severs the connection, saving his friends. Inspired by Emmet's sacrifice, Wyldstyle rallies the Lego people across the universe to use whatever creativity they have to build machines and weapons to fight against Lord Business's forces.
Emmet finds himself in the human world as a Lego minifigure unable to move. The events of the story are being played out by a little boy named Finn on his father's expansive Lego set in their basement. His father—"the Man Upstairs"—comes home from work and chastises his son for ruining the set by creating variations of different playsets, and proceeds to permanently rebuild and glue his perceived perfect creations together. Realizing the danger his friends are in, Emmet wills himself to move and gains Finn's attention. Finn returns Emmet and the Piece of Resistance to the set, where Emmet now possesses the powers of a Master Builder and confronts Business. Meanwhile, Finn's father looks at his son's creations and realizes that Finn had based the villainous Business on him and his perfectionism. Through a speech Emmet gives Business, Finn tells his father that he is special and has the power to change everything. Finn reconciles with his father, which plays out as Business having a change of heart, capping the Kragle, and ungluing his victims with mineral spirits. Emmet is hailed as a hero, and begins a relationship with Wyldstyle with Batman's blessing.
As a result of Finn's father allowing Finn's younger sister to join them in playing with his Lego sets, aliens from the planet Duplon beam down and announce their plans to destroy them.Chris Pratt as Emmet Brickowski, an everyman and construction worker from Bricksburg
Will Ferrell as Lord Business, president of the Octan Corporation under the name President BusinessFerrell also plays "The Man Upstairs," a Lego collector in the live-action part of the film
Elizabeth Banks as Lucy/Wyldstyle, a Master Builder
Will Arnett as Bruce Wayne / Batman, a DC Comics superhero who is a Master Builder
Nick Offerman as Metal Beard, a giant makeshift pirate and Master Builder
Alison Brie as Princess Unikitty, a unicorn-horned kitten and Master Builder from Cloud Cuckoo Land
Charlie Day as Benny, a "1980-something space guy" who is a Master Builder
Liam Neeson as Bad Cop / Good Cop, a double-headed police officer that leads the Super Secret Police
Neeson also voices Pa Cop, Bad Cop/Good Cop's father
Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius, a blind old wizard who is one of the Master Builders
Channing Tatum as Clark Kent / Superman, a DC Comics superhero who is one of the Master Builders
Jonah Hill as Hal Jordan / Green Lantern, a DC Comics superhero who is one of the Master Builders
Cobie Smulders as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman, a DC Comics superhero who is one of the Master Builders
Jadon Sand as Finn, The Man Upstairs' young son in the live-action part of the film
In addition, Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams reprise their Star Wars roles as C-3PO and Lando Calrissian respectively, with Keith Ferguson voicing Han Solo (whom he previously voiced in Robot Chicken and Mad). Shaquille O'Neal voices a Lego version of himself who is a Master Builder alongside two generic members of the 2002 NBA All-Stars.
Will Forte, Dave Franco, Jake Johnson, Keegan-Michael Key, Chris McKay, and Jorma Taccone provide voice cameos in the film.
Co-director Christopher Miller cameos as a TV presenter in the studio that films the Where Are My Pants? TV series.
Dan Lin conceived of the idea for the film and began discussing it with Roy Lee before leaving Warner Bros. to form his own production company, Lin Pictures, in 2008. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. home entertainment executive Kevin Tsujihara had recognized the value of the Lego franchise by engineering the studio's purchase of Lego video game licensee Traveller's Tales in 2007, thought the success of the Lego-based video games indicated a Lego-based film was a good idea, and reportedly "championed" the development of the film. By August 2009, Dan and Kevin Hageman were writing the script described as "action adventure set in a Lego world." Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were in talks in June 2010 to write and direct the film. Warner Bros. green-lit the film by November 2011, with a planned 2014 release date. The Australian studio Animal Logic was contracted to provide the animation, which was expected to comprise 80% of the film. By this time Chris McKay, the director of Robot Chicken, had also joined Lord and Miller to co-direct. McKay explained that his role was to supervise the production in Australia once Lord and Miller left to work on 22 Jump Street. In March 2012, Lord and Miller revealed the film's working title, Lego: The Piece of Resistance, and a storyline. In April 2012, Warner Bros. scheduled the film for release on February 28, 2014, a date that subsequently changed.
By June 2012, Chris Pratt had been cast as the voice of Emmet, the lead Lego character, and Will Arnett voicing Lego Batman; the role of Lego Superman was offered to Channing Tatum. By August 2012, Elizabeth Banks was hired to voice Lucy (later getting the alias "Wyldstyle") and Morgan Freeman to voice Vitruvius, an old mystic. In October 2012, Warner Bros. shifted the release date for the film, simply titled Lego, to February 7, 2014. In November 2012, Alison Brie, Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, and Nick Offerman signed on for roles. Brie voices Unikitty, a member of Emmet's team; Ferrell voices the antagonist President/Lord Business; Neeson voices Bad Cop; and Offerman voices Metal Beard, a pirate seeking revenge on Business.
In July 2012, a Lego-user contest announced on the film's Facebook page would choose a winning Lego vehicle to appear in the film. Miller's childhood Space Village playset is utilized in the film.
Animal Logic tried to make the film's animation replicate a stop motion film even if everything was done through computer graphics, with the animation rigs following the same articulation limits actual Lego figures have. The camera systems also tried to replicate live action cinematography, including different lenses and a Steadicam simulator. The scenery was projected through The Lego Group's own Lego Digital Designer, which as CG supervisor Aidan Sarsfield detailed, "uses the official LEGO Brick Library and effectively simulates the connectivity of each of the bricks." The saved files were then converted to design and animate in Maya and XSI. At times the minifigures were even placed under microscopes to capture the seam lines, dirt and grime into the digital textures. Benny the spaceman was based on the line of Lego space sets sold in the 1980s, and his design includes the broken helmet chin strap, a common defect of the space sets at that time.
The film's total cost, including production, promotion and advertising (P&A), was $100 million. Half of the film's cost was financed by Village Roadshow Pictures. The rest was covered by Warner Bros., with RatPac-Dune Entertainment providing a smaller share as part of its multi-year financing agreement with Warner Bros. Initially Warner Bros. turned down Village Roadshow Pictures when it asked to invest in the film. However, Warner Bros. later changed its mind, reportedly due to lack of confidence in the film, initially offering Village Roadshow Pictures the opportunity to finance 25% of the film, and later, an additional 25%.
The Lego Movie premiered at the Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles, California on February 1, 2014, and was released in theaters on February 7, 2014. The film was released in Australia by the film's co-producer, Roadshow Films.
Over twenty Lego sets inspired by scenes from the film were released for the film including a set of Collectible Minifigures. A website was opened up so fans could make minifigure versions of themselves, and later, put that in the film's official trailer. The company recruited a roster of global partners to a broad, multi-category licensing program to support the film. Official Lego Brand Stores also scheduled events. Each week of January 2014, a new character poster (Wyldstyle, Batman, Emmet, Lord Business) came with every purchase. By building a creative model in-store, people received a free accessory pack. Barnes & Noble hosted a themed event in January, February, and March. On February 7, 2014, McDonald's released eight collectible holographic/3D cups in Happy Meals to promote the film. A video game based on the film, The Lego Movie Videogame, by TT Fusion for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, and Windows, was released on February 4, 2014. An exclusive "Wild West Emmet" minifigure was released with preorders of the game at GameStop.
The Lego Movie was released on Digital HD on May 20, 2014. It was released by Warner Home Video on DVD and Blu-ray (2D and 3D) on June 17, 2014. A special Blu-ray 3D "Everything is Awesome Edition" also includes an exclusive Vitruvius minifigure and a collectible 3D Emmett photo.
The Lego Movie was met with "nearly unanimous positive reviews." Review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 96% approval rating with an average rating of 8.2/10 based on 226 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Boasting beautiful animation, a charming voice cast, laugh-a-minute gags, and a surprisingly thoughtful story, The Lego Movie is colorful fun for all ages." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the film has a score of 83 (indicating "universal acclaim") based on 43 reviews. According to CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, the average grade cinemagoers gave The Lego Movie was A on an A+ to F scale. Filmmaker Edgar Wright, and TIME Magazine film critic Richard Corliss, each named The Lego Movie as one of their favorite films of 2014.
Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Arriving at a time when feature animation was looking and feeling mighty anemic...The LEGO Movie shows 'em how it's done," with Peter Debruge of Variety adding that Lord and Miller "irreverently deconstruct the state of the modern blockbuster and deliver a smarter, more satisfying experience in its place, emerging with a fresh franchise for others to build upon." Tom Huddleston of Time Out said, "The script is witty, the satire surprisingly pointed, and the animation tactile and imaginative." Drew Hunt of the Chicago Reader said the filmmakers "fill the script with delightfully absurd one-liners and sharp pop culture references", with A. O. Scott of The New York Times noting that, "Pop-culture jokes ricochet off the heads of younger viewers to tickle the world-weary adults in the audience, with just enough sentimental goo applied at the end to unite the generations. Parents will dab their eyes while the kids roll theirs." Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News said the filmmakers "don't sink into cynicism. Their computer animation embraces the retro look and feel of the toys to both ingenious and adorable effect."
Claudia Puig of USA Today called the film "a spirited romp through a world that looks distinctively familiar, and yet freshly inventive." Liam Lacey of The Globe and Mail asked, "Can a feature-length toy commercial also work as a decent kids’ movie? The bombast of the G.I. Joe and Transformers franchises might suggest no, but after an uninspired year for animated movies, The Lego Movie is a 3-D animated film that connects." Joel Arnold of NPR acknowledged that the film "may be one giant advertisement, but all the way to its plastic-mat foundation, it's an earnest piece of work—a cash grab with a heart." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called the film "sassy enough to shoot well-aimed darts at corporate branding." Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post said that, "While clearly filled with affection for—and marketing tie-ins to—the titular product that's front and center, it's also something of a sharp plastic brick flung in the eye of its corporate sponsor."
On the negative side, Kyle Smith of the New York Post called the film "more exhausting than fun, too unsure of itself to stick with any story thread for too long." Moira MacDonald of The Seattle Times, while generally positive, found "it falls apart a bit near the end." Alonso Duralde of The Wrap said the film "will doubtless tickle young fans of the toys. It's just too bad that a movie that encourages you to think for yourself doesn't follow its own advice."
Television personality, author, filmmaker, radio host and conservative political commentator Glenn Beck praised the film for avoiding "the double meanings and adult humor I just hate."
Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris referenced The Lego Movie not being nominated Best Animated Feature, which many critics considered a major snub, saying prior to the award's presentation "If you’re at the Oscar party with the guys who directed 'The Lego Movie,' now would be a great time to distract them."
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson criticized the film's anti-corporate message, saying that it taught children that "government is good and business is bad", citing the villain's name of Lord Business. "That's done for a reason", Johnson told WisPolitics.com. "They're starting that propaganda, and it's insidious". The comments were criticized by many, and Russ Feingold brought up the comments on the campaign trail during his 2016 Senate bid against Johnson.
The Lego Movie grossed $257.8 million in the U.S. and Canada, and $210.3 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $469.2 million. Calculating in all expenses, Deadline.com estimated that the film made a profit of $229 million.
In the U.S. and Canada, the film opened at number one in its first weekend with over $69 million, which was the second highest weekend debut in February, at the time, behind The Passion of the Christ ($83.8 million). The movie retained the top spot at box office in its second weekend by declining only 28% and grossing $49.8 million. The Lego Movie was number one again in its third weekend while declining 37% and grossing $31.3 million. In its fourth weekend, the film dropped to number three grossing $20.8 million.
Elsewhere, The Lego Movie was released in 34 markets in February 7, 2014—the same weekend as its U.S. release. It made $18.7 million on its opening weekend from 5,695 screens from 34 countries. On its opening weekend, which varies depending on the country, it earned $3.8 million in Mexico, $2 million in Spain, $1.8 million in Brazil. With a total gross of £34.3 million, it was the second highest-grossing film in the UK and Ireland in 2014.
The popularity of the film led to a shortage of Lego products by September 2014.
The film's original score was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, who had previously worked with Lord and Miller on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street. The Lego Movie soundtrack contains the score as the majority of its tracks. Also included is the song "Everything Is Awesome!!!" written by Shawn Patterson (El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera and Robot Chicken), Joshua Bartholomew and Lisa Harriton, who also perform the song in the movie under the name, Jo Li. The single, released on January 27, 2014, is performed by Tegan and Sara featuring The Lonely Island (Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone) who wrote the rap lyrics, and is the first song played in the end credits of the movie. The soundtrack was released on February 4, 2014 by WaterTower Music.Track listing
The film's theme song, "Everything is Awesome!!!", has been critically praised and has undergone some close analysis. Eric Brown, writing in the International Business Times, describes the song as a parody of fascism, saying that the song "seems little more than an infectiously catchy parody of watered-down radio pop, right down to the faux-dubstep breakdown. There's a lot more happening under the surface, however." In an interview with Fox News, producer Mark Mothersbaugh says the song "was supposed to be like mind control early in the film. It's totally irritating, this kind of mindless mantra to get people up and working."
Because of its critical and commercial success, The Lego Movie has been turned into a franchise and a shared fictional universe. It consists of two spin-off films, The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie, both with 2017 release dates, a sequel scheduled for release in 2019, and a third spin-off titled The Billion Brick Race. A 4-D ride attraction, based on the film itself, titled The Lego Movie: 4D - A New Adventure, opened at select Legoland theme parks across the globe in the summer of 2016.
On May 10, 2017, Warner Bros. and Lego announced that the character Unikitty would receive a spin-off television series on Cartoon Network, with Tara Strong voicing the character. The premiere date is yet to be announced.