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Why ‘The LEGO Movie 2’ Was Such A Huge Box Office Disappointment

‘LEGO Movie 2’Warner Bros.

I wrote in late 2017 that Warner Bros.’ most important/unfortunate flop of that year wasn’t Justice League (which had earned $658 million, less than Man of Steel, on a $300m budget) but rather The LEGO Ninjago Movie. The late-September toon had earned just $123m worldwide on an $80m budget. More importantly, it had earned less than the non-IP Storks ($183m in September of 2016) and (eventually) Smallfoot ($214m in September of 2018). When an outright original animated feature out-earns an IP-specific property, that means that the IP isn’t quite the draw that was presumed. That’s the tragic lesson of The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. Not every hit movie spawns a hit franchise.

While no one expected The LEGO Movie 2 to match the lightning-in-a-bottle success of The LEGO Movie ($257 million domestic and $469m worldwide on a $60m budget and from a $69m opening weekend), few of us expected such a massive drop. With $34.1m on opening weekend, and $34.7m total including those sneak previews, The LEGO Movie 2 is acting less like a breakout sequel and more like a victim of The Tomb Raider Trap. That’s not fair, since both The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Movie 2 were quite good. But the relative comedown is reminiscent of 2016, when we saw a handful of high-profile sequels comparatively crash and burn.

The 50% opening weekend drop between installments is comparable to the likes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows ($35m in 2016 from a $64m debut in 2014) or Neighbors 2 ($22m in 2016 compared to $50m in 2014). It’s not quite as bad as The Huntsman: Winter’s War ($21m from a $56m debut in 2012), nor is it as good as Now You See Me 2 ($22m compared to $29m in 2013). That magic heist flick earned 45%

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