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Lego movies build a new home at Universal Pictures

‘Lego Movie’
The character Good Cop/Bad Cop, voiced by Liam Neeson, appears in a scene from “The Lego Movie.”
(Warner Bros. )

Is the world finally going to get a much-needed “Lego Hobbs & Shaw Movie”?

Lego films have found a new studio home in Universal Pictures after spending years as a key animated franchise for Warner Bros.

For the record:
12:29 PM, May. 12, 2020 An earlier version of the article gave the incorrect title for Ann Sarnoff. She is CEO of Warner Bros., not WarnerMedia.

Comcast Corp.-owned Universal has signed a five-year deal with Lego Group to develop, produce and distribute new movies based on the toy brand, the companies said Thursday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Los Angeles studio, known for the “Fast & Furious” and “Jurassic World” franchises, has been in talks with the famed Danish building block company since last year.

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Previously, Burbank-based Warner Bros. considered the Lego movies a pillar of its film business, along with the “Harry Potter” universe and DC superhero movies.

“The Lego Movie” was a surprise smash in 2014, grossing $468 million at the box office, but the computer animated films yielded diminishing returns as the studio churned out follow-ups.

2017’s “The Lego Batman Movie” performed well for Warner Bros., which is now owned by AT&T Inc. But “The Lego Ninjago Movie” and “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” disappointed at the box office.

Under the leadership of former BBC executive Ann Sarnoff, Warner Bros. has pivoted the studio to work more closely with other WarnerMedia businesses, such as the new HBO Max streaming service that launches next month. Last year, Sarnoff was named CEO of Warner Bros., which AT&T acquired in 2018.

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Lego films are a natural fit for Universal, which has a robust family movie business, including “Minions” studio Illumination Entertainment and “Trolls” and “Kung Fu Panda” maker DreamWorks Animation. Kids franchises are an important part of Universal’s business as it looks to compete with Walt Disney Co.'s animated studios, Disney Animation and Pixar.

Universal and Lego have previously teamed on the television special, “Jurassic World: The Secret Exhibit” and the 13-episode series “Lego Jurassic World: Legend of Isla Nublar.”


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