"The Transformers" franchise has made over $2 billion. But now it's another toy's chance to build the big bucks at the box office.
After the box-office misfire of "Battleship," the commercial success but critical drubbing of "G.I. Joe," the live action "Smurfs" films and all of the rest of the Hollywood stories mining childhood nostalgia, it was easy to be cynical when plans were unveiled for a big studio picture based on LEGO.
The San Francisco Chronicle's review of "The LEGO Movie" called it a "good film built on low expectations," demonstrative of a wave of stunned critical praise culminating in a near perfect Rotten Tomatoes score (98 percent!) as "The Lego Movie" rolled into theaters. Box-office watchers predicted a huge opening in the $70 million range. Fandango reported "The LEGO Movie" had their second biggest ticket pre-sales for animated movie ever, behind only "Toy Story 3."
"Frozen" has made $865 million for Disney since it opened in November, 2013 and "Despicable Me 2" is $30 million away from $1 billion. "The LEGO Movie" boasts a similar strength in that it appeals to kids and parents alike. The Lego brand has been going strong since it launched in Denmark in the 1930s.
The movie is stuffed with a pop-culture hodgepodge of everyone from Batman to Han Solo to Abraham Lincoln (!), voiced by "it" comedic actors like Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett and Will Ferrell (added bonus: Channing Tatum is Superman). Plus, it's directed by the duo that made "21 Jump Street."
In an even stranger twist of fate, despite an Oscar-winning cast of distinguished gentlemen, "The Monuments Men" is getting roasted by critics. George Clooney wrote, directed, produced and stars in the World War II tale and enlisted Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin and Hugh Bonneville to star alongside him. "The Monuments Men" isn't likely to open with more than $20 million, according to box-office forecasts.
"Vampire Academy" is likely to do even worse. Not every Young Adult franchise can be "The Hunger Games" or "The Twilight Saga" (we're looking at you, "The Mortal Instruments" and "Percy Jackson") and "Vampire Academy" seems on track to be here today and gone tomorrow in the pop-culture consciousness. It's likely to make half as much as "The Monuments Men" this weekend, if not less. Three-time champion "Ride Along" will probably beat it.
"Frozen" will probably hang around the top five, boosted no doubt by the "sing-a-long" version available in some theaters.