Yesterday's box office results are in, and Lego Movie led the way with $17.1 million in ticket sales, leaving Monuments Men in the dust with only $7 million. If you haven't been following what reviewers are saying (in short: Lego Movie is awesome, Monuments Men is not), this might seem like surprising news. However, I'm ready to vouch for the fact that this opening weekend score card was a long way coming. But it begs the question: what actually makes a good movie, and what do we really want to see? For your weekend edition of Waxing Philosophical, here are five theories why Lego Movie kicked Monuments Men's box office ass yesterday, or it why it just totally crushed the box office, in general.
1. Critics Say "Yay!"
As mentioned previously, critics are hailing Lego Movie for actually being a good movie. It looks cool with its stop-motion animation; directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the folks behind the first Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, created an awesome world of Legos! Critics are praising the film's ingenuity and its send-up of our conformist societies; it's a story about an average Joe drone, Emmet, voiced by Parks and Rec's Chris Pratt, who must deal with conformity (as if being a Lego has ever been more symbolic!), and whether or not he's "The Special." A.O. Scott of The New York Times hailed it for having a solid take home message: "to follow the lead of your own ingenuity." A movie with a good message is always one that will incite critics to speak positively about it. Rotten Tomatoes said the movie ranks a super-high 96%, which is even higher than American Hustle ranks (it scored 93%), and assuming folks read reviews, then yes — this is the cut and dry, obvious version that the movie did so well on its opening day. However, opening day means it's not enough time for things to spread by word of mouth to usurp every other movie so ostensibly (unless everybody saw the movie at midnight on Thursday and jumped to Twitter), and I'm going to venture that not everybody reads reviews; many folks don't even take a glance at a review in fear that it will sway their opinions. So stellar reviews can only account for one theory as to why Lego Movie killed it on its first day in theaters.
2. The Trailer Is Phenomenal
If you didn't laugh out loud at the trailer (Morgan Freeman's God-like character, Will Arnett's so aptly voiced Batman, Will Ferrell's evil President Business), and how these actors send up the tropes that they always play — but as Legos — then watch it again. It's a good trailer! When I first heard there was a Lego movie, I was all, "but I'm a sophisticated woman; watch me drink espresso without any Splenda!" but then I saw the trailer as I waiting to see Frozen (which I will standby til the end of time as a masterpiece of all things Disney and life), I laughed so genuinely that I abandoned all traces of judgment and doubt. I imagine that I'm not the only person who experienced this sensation. I mean, check out the trailer.
3. The Kids Can Go, Too
Part of musing over why a movie succeed in theaters is understanding whose asses are in the seats in the first place; no matter how solid a rated R movie is, you cannot take the kids. If for every two adults seeing the movie, there's a kid, you've already got more physical bodies in the theater. If parents can take the kids, quite simply, and it's good, it's a surefire box office success. In fact, the movie that Lego Movie dethroned as the top movie at the box office was family-friendly Frozen. Simply put: if the whole family wants to go — let alone, can go — then they will, and the box office numbers will prove it.
4. Legos Are Coming To Life
Enough said, you know? When a favorite childhood toy comes to life on the big screen, despite initial accusations that it very well may be a constant promotional plug, people are going to rush to the theaters to see them come to life. It could be genuine curiosity, or just brand familiarity that sends kids and adults alike running towards movie theaters across the country. Even if the movie was total crap (which it's not), assuredly, theaters still would have been packed. What doesn't Monuments Men have in it that Lego Movie does? Legos. Brand familiarity can usurp anything; Harry Potter will crush some other star-studded movies because it's Harry Potter.
5. The Toy Story Theory
If there's anything that the Toy Story trilogy taught me, it's that seeing your favorite toys on the big screen, satirizing and sending up their own popular images (think of fabulous Ken in Toy Story 3), allows a writer to speak volumes. As adults, it's incredibly fun to see familiar faces from our collective youths speaking honestly through their behavior. Not to mention, Toy Story proved to many adults that kid movies aren't just for kids, and toys aren't just for kids, because at one point, we were all kids playing with toys, weren't we? And we may even have some stuffed animals — or Legos — in our closets.
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