So I shared my thoughts on how Ninjago affects the Lego movie brand as a whole in the comments of the latest brick feed, but I thought I'd bring it here for discussion:
So I saw the Lego Ninjago movie the other day, I took my little brother to go see it, both for him and for myself. I left feeling as though I liked it, it had problems but was still a fun movie. I agree in large part with the criticisms you all bring up in the Brickers episode, and it really did have a lot of things wrong with it, but I've done some thinking myself on a broader scale as to what really made this movie appeal less to people and what Lego needs to do to fix that.
To be honest, I don't think the general audience knew what to expect from this movie. I think people went to the Lego movie because it looked genuinely funny, and they heard good things about it, and then they liked it because the humor, the message, the direction of the movie appealed both to kids and to adults, and a lot of people came out really happy.
Forward to Lego Batman, people were familiar with Lego's moviemaking by that point, and the trailer pretty much told them what they were getting into. They knew the movie they were going to see before they saw it, and they went because they wanted to see it. People who aren't batman fans didn't go. I think Lego batman's success among audiences is pretty well summed up with that.
Now ninjago, it has flaws but in my opinion is still a decent movie, and now we see people go back and forth about it, some really liked it, some were a little too put off by some of its flaws, all understandable, but not as many people went to see it. I think that's vitally important. I think ninjago started to lose people because the Lego movie looked really good from the beginning, then it delivered and made a name for itself. The batman movie told you what it was going to be, and if you went to see it it was because you knew you would like it, and it delivered to that audience as well. Ninjago? I think people didn't know what they were going to see. People watched the trailer and said "ok, ninjago is that Lego kids theme, their movies have been decent but I don't know if this one is for me" and that's where you saw a lot of people split, some went, some didn't, because they didn't know what they would be seeing.
If Lego wants to make a decent name for its movie brand people need to know what they're going to see and feel happy with the end result when they do. The latter part of that they've kept stray I think, but the former, people knowing what they're going to see, is beginning to waver. The Lego Movie brought in a lot of things the kids enjoyed but the adults also recognized, got a laugh out of because it reflected their daily life or three a reference to something they knew and remembered. It made people happy.
For the future of Lego's movies, at least for the next few, I think Lego needs to stick to some themes that are more grounded than Ninjago and easier to sell to a broader audience. People really enjoyed seeing the different worlds in the Lego ninjago movie not because they were really specific and had their own lore and host of characters and rules, but because they were simple, recognizable, fun.
A Lego Wild West movie, or a Lego knights movie, something that fits into that bracket of settings and genres people know, recognize, and enjoy, would sell to a broader audience because they know what they're getting into with something like that. They know the kind of self aware, witty humor the Lego movies provide and they want to see that in things they remember and enjoy from their own youth.
Lego has no problem selling this to kids, the humor has had no problem landing with kids and the idea of seeing Lego's in a movie is instantly appealing I think. But keeping a broader audience in mind and making your movie appeal to a larger base of people who want to know what their getting into is, I think, an important part of Lego establishing its movies in the minds of its audience.