'The Lego Movie' Looks Set to Beat the Bad February Movies Trend

By Josh Wolonick  FEB 07, 2014 5:15 PM

The film has a broad audience, excellent reviews, and some experts are estimating it may earn more than $50 million this weekend.

 


February is generally the worst month of the year for new movie releases. It's when studios often unload projects that couldn't make it during the height of awards season, nor during the summer blockbuster time frame. Yesterday, Slate quantified this effect. Using ratings from the website Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates reviews from critics and fans to give a film an overall score out of 100, Slate's Chris Kirk and Kim Thompson confirmed that February truly is the worst month for movies.

By putting together the scores for every movie made since 2000 that grossed over $1 million, they revealed that February's average score was 45, three points lower than January's and September's 48 and a full 13 points lower than July's 58. See that chart from Slate here.

This weekend, however, may see a major release push back against that trend. Warner Bros.' (NYSE:TWX) The Lego Movie, an animated film based on the building blocks that kids have loved for decades, currently has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Moreover, many experts are predicting that the film, with its broad appeal to kids, parents, and adults who used to play with the popular toys, will have a very successful weekend at the box office.

Laramey Legel of the movie-centric website Rope of Silicon is predicting that the film will take in $45.5 million, though he added that his prediction "could end up being low if the market is hungry enough."

Variety concurred, writing that the movie will have a $45 million-plus opening weekend and adding that some observers are predicting an opening gross of $50 million.

On top of an all-star voice cast, including Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, Chris Pratt, and Elizabeth Banks, the reviews are certainly shining. Dana Stevens of Slate said the film is "a clever, vividly imagined, consistently funny, eye-poppingly pretty and oddly profound movie...about Legos." Seemingly, critics are equally praising the film for its inventive animation, energy, and sense of fun, as well as its depth. Said Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal, "The best part is what the movie has to say about conformity -- following the instructions on the box -- versus creativity, i.e. life as a jumble, an inspired improvisation, a joyous hodgepodge." Even more impressively, the Boston Globe's Ty Burr had this to say: "My fingers rebel, but type it I must: The Lego Movie is the first great cinematic experience of 2014."

The film also has a quality pedigree going for it. The filmmakers, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, already have several critical and box-office successes to their names. Their last two wide-release films were 2009's Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (domestic gross: $125 million) and 2012's 21 Jump Street ($138 million). To top it off, the two created the cult classic MTV show Clone High, in which clones of famous figures from history all go to high school together (seriously, you should check out this show if you've never seen it).

The only major competition for this weekend's box office will come from the delayed George Clooney film The Monuments Men, which tells the true story of a group of men tasked with protecting great works of art from the Nazis during WWII (it was originally intended for release on December 18, 2013, at the height of awards season). With major stars like Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, and Cate Blanchett attached, the film will at least see some decent action at the box office, but reviews do not portend well: the current Rotten Tomatoes rating for the World War II art-caper is 33%.

According to Variety, Sony (NYSE:SNE), the studio behind the film, is projecting a first weekend gross in the high-teens to low-$20 millions. Given the nature of the competition, which also includes the teen-targeted Vampire Academy from the Weinstein Company, which is tracking for a weekend gross in the single digits, The Lego Movie is set to be the weekend's box office winner.

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