LEGO, one of the world’s most recognizable toy brands, is currently looking for a new Hollywood home.
The company’s deal with Warner Bros. expired earlier this year, and new reports indicate that LEGO is currently in talks with Universal for an exclusive partnership which would see them produce “a new batch” of LEGO movies. Dan Lin, who produced all four of WB’s LEGO films, is in talks to stay on board as a producer.
The Hollywood Reporter says LEGO has been exploring its options for months, fielding pitches from multiple studios before officially entering talks with Universal. Its deal with Warner Bros. expired early this fall, and the implication is that LEGO didn’t renew that pact because executives there were disappointed with the box office returns of the one-two punch of 2017’s The LEGO Ninjago Movie and this year’s The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part.
Both of those projects underperformed compared to the first two entries in the WB deal, 2014’s The LEGO Movie and 2017’s The LEGO Batman Movie. That first film was so strong that it ended up at #64 on /Film’s 100 Best Films of the Decade list – not bad for a movie which, on paper, sounded like an eye-roll inducing piece of corporate trash. But in a brilliantly meta touch, writer/directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller used the movie as a way to explore the nature of creativity itself, resulting in a shockingly great piece of filmmaking. The LEGO Batman Movie is nowhere near as brilliant, but it’s ambitious in an entirely different way – it’s a legitimately excellent Batman story about finding family in unlikely places, and it’s packed with so many rapid-fire jokes and visual gags that it’ll make your cowl spin. It is, hands down, one of the zaniest movies of the 2010s.
It’s unclear whether audience interest in LEGO movies has waned after the novelty of the animated brick style wore off, but the company is hoping that Universal can reinvigorate the franchise with a new batch of films. It’s unclear at this stage what those movies will be, and it’s also unclear if previously-announced projects like The LEGO Batman Movie 2 or The Billion Brick Race are still on the table. Personally, I would love to see Universal move away from the flashy approach and make some lower key genre movies that just happen to look like they’re constructed with LEGOs – a Sherlock Holmes-style mystery, for example. I can see it now: “Elementary, my dear Blockson.”
Tom Ascheim is headed to WarnerMedia. The former Freeform President has been named President of Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics for Warner Bros. He will oversee Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang, the studios of Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. Animation in Los Angeles and will have global responsibility for the Turner Classic Movies channel. He will start in the summer, reporting to Warner Bros. chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff.
The news comes as Ascheim earlier today stepped down as President of Freeform after six and a half years at the Disney network, triggering immediate speculation that he had lined up another job.
At Warner Bros, he reunites with Sarnoff with whom he previously worked at Nickelodeon.
“I am excited that Tom will be joining Warner Bros,” Sarnoff said. “He is an excellent executive and collaborative leader with an impressive track record and deep experience in the kids and young adult worlds. I had the benefit of seeing Tom's skills firsthand when we were at Nickelodeon and really look forward to working with him again.”
Ascheim’s appointment helps fill the void left by the departure at the end of 2019 of Christina Miller, who stepped down as President of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang and TCM after almost 15 years with the company. Ascheim’s larger portfolio includes oversight of production operations, including Warner Bros. Animation.
The content under Ascheim’s purview are distributed in 192 countries around the world. The division's networks are in 500 million homes and delivered through over 65 channels in 31 languages. Ascheim will work with executives at Warner Bros. and the WarnerMedia Global Distribution and Advertising Sales team to develop and implement global and local strategies for the brands.
“I am thrilled to be joining Warner Bros. and especially excited to be working with the deeply talented folks at Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang, TCM and Warner Bros. Animation,” said Ascheim. “I’ve been watching their work since I was a child and it’s thrilling to be part of such a storied group. I’m equally excited to be working again with Ann Sarnoff who remains one of the best people I’ve ever had the privilege to work with.”
Ascheim joined Freeform when it was still ABC Family in December 2013 and oversaw its rebrand into Freeform. Original series on Freeform include hit comedy grown-ish as well as dramas The Bold Type, Siren, Good Trouble, Party of Five, the newest addition, Motherland: Fort Salem, and the upcoming Last Summer produced by Jessica Biel.
A well liked executive, Ascheim has spent much of his career catering tp younger audiences. He joined the millennial-focued Freeform after serving as General Manager of...