In case you missed it Thursday, "Beyond the Brick," a documentary that seeks to do for Lego what Harry Potter did for wizards, is headed to a theater and/or TV set near you.
Radius, the Weinstein Co.-affiliated outfit behind the feel-good documentary "Twenty Feet from Stardom," has acquired rights to Daniel Junge and Kief Davidson’s film, which travels the world telling of the creative obsessives who build with Lego and the company that encourages them.
Narrated by a minifig-incarnated Jason Bateman, the movie was one of the most strongly received titles at the recent Tribeca Film Festival. And for good reason: In telling of the toy's creative possibilities, the film is endearingly whimsical and even inspiring, if a little hagiographic.
As Radius co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego said in a statement, "We've been looking for a film that families can enjoy together.” This one, they added, “surpasses all of those expectations.“ The company, which releases movies theatrically and on VOD, did not announce its distribution plan.
“Beyond the Brick” shows the power of the AFOL community (Adults Friends of Lego, for those not a little newbie-ish and, well, prone to using BURPs), but also how the Danish toy is used in urban planning, filmmaking and even therapy. Lego, the film suggests, is hardly the solitary toy of some people’s memory.
“I was surprised most by at how Lego brings people together," Davidson, nominated for an Oscar for his documentary “Open Heart,” said in an interview, "When we first set out to make the movie, it seemed like something people do on their own. But it really is a way for people to connect.”
The movie is part of a larger Lego-aissance. Chris Lord and Phil Miller's “The Lego Movie” took in enough money upon release this winter to put it, currently, at No. 1 on the 2014 box-office list. The company itself did some chart-jumping by becoming the second-biggest toy firm in the world last year despite, as one expert says in "Beyond the Brick," making just one product. There’s a sequel to “The Lego Movie” on the way too.
Lego is in some ways the perfect branded choice for movies: Unlike most toys, with their specific mythology that has to be twisted and contorted to fit into two hours of screen story, it could be anything to anyone. Find the right story, or the right director to tell the story, and you’ll have a movie. Or find those who are already compelled by the toy and just make a movie about them.