The LEGO Movie 2 performs poorly in first weekend while also being top movie in theaters [Feature]

The opening weekend of a movie is typically an indicator of how successful it will ultimately be. And even though the The LEGO Movie 2 (TLM2) took the number one spot in the box office (read our review here), the financial performance looks troubling, possibly placing the development of future sequels at risk.

The first LEGO Movie netted $87.4 million worldwide during its opening weekend. TLM2’s opening weekend was comparatively disappointing, reaching just $52.5 million. Let’s take a closer look to compare the two.

Globally, non-U.S. markets accounted for approximately $18 million in sales for each film during their opening weekend. While the non-U.S. numbers might sound like a consistent performance, TLM2 opened in more than double the number of overseas markets as its predecessor, yet only achieved the same net earnings. Meanwhile, the domestic U.S. opening only achieved around half of the first movie’s earnings.

Another worrying indicator determining if the sequel will be a success is TLM2’s significantly higher production budget. The LEGO Movie’s box office earnings the first time around was handily able to cover production costs and earn a nice profit in a single weekend. In comparison, TLM2 barely made it to the halfway point in recovering its investment. It still has a long way to go to turn a profit, especially when considering a large unreported marketing budget for the film.

Is the movie itself to blame? (Not according to Rotten Tomatoes who rated the film “certified fresh” with a great score of 85/100.) Did poor weather conditions in many places prevent people getting to theaters? (Maybe, but for some odd reason the movie won’t even open for another month in Australia where it is the height of summer.) Or maybe the marketing campaign missed its target aiming more toward kids rather than a broader audience.

Historically, February is a low month for filmgoers, and TLM2 had a great opening weekend compared to other movies released during the same period in previous years. But even though it came out on top comparatively, the expectations of those involved with its production and LEGO superfans were that the movie would perform much higher.

The film might have a longer life at the box office and bring in slow and steady returns. We will see if TLM2 gets a good second-weekend bump as it faces relatively little competition. But the window of opportunity is quickly closing with How to Train Your Dragon 3 opening on February 22nd.

Which leaves us with our primary question: Has the novelty of LEGO movies given way to fatigue? Have Warner Brothers and LEGO overreached by pushing out spin-off films The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Ninjago Movie too soon while waiting too long for the main sequel? Have we perhaps reached maximum product saturation with 28 tie-in sets (the second wave just revealed yesterday)?

Would you be disappointed if this signaled the end of the LEGO Movie film franchise on the big screen? Have you had a chance to watch the movie? If not, why? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

27 comments on “The LEGO Movie 2 performs poorly in first weekend while also being top movie in theaters [Feature]

  1. Captain Mutant

    Haven’t watched it yet for personal reasons outside of my control – maybe the rest of the world is actually mirroring my own personal life, and everyone out there is but a figment of my own imagination?
    Could this explain the low turnout?

  2. Ronald

    Saw the movie on Saturday night in the opening weekend. 9:30pm is maybe not prime time for a family movie but I was surprised to see around 25 people in a room that seats 250+.
    I was fairly disappointed by the movie but my wife and son loved it.

  3. Danny Larabee

    Seen it twice and loved it. I think the weather may have played a role. Critics liked it, and it is getting a good audience score. I think people just didn’t make it out to the movies (which seems to be a 2019 trend so far). I would be more concerned if people were choosing to see something else at theaters, but that isn’t it. They are just not going.

  4. Legoinsel

    Maybe people got tired by all the Lego movies in the last years? They started with a brilliant first movie (which I’m still sad I wasn’t able to see in the cinema), Batman had its moments and Ninjago was a disaster (moviewise – I really enjoyed the sets).

    TLM2 doesn’t interest me at all. I really liked the madmax look some sets have and the Benny Squad is a fanfavorite for me and most will agree on that.
    But the trailer bored me to death. Mostly because every trailer showing almost the whole story bores me. And I’m really not sold on the whole duplo/minidoll mix. And the basic idea of pushing set-sales through a movie nobody asked for.

  5. Captain Mutant

    “a movie nobody asked for.”
    That’s always been a weird argument to me. Nobody asked for the first one either and it did remarkably well.
    Audiences are fickle. If you liked it, fantastic. If you didn’t, there are plenty of other movies out there.

  6. Legoinsel

    I never heard anybody say “You know what? I’d really love to see another TheLegoMovie movie”.
    There are several scifi/superhero/action/horror franchises where I personally have no demand for a sequel either, but I can clearly say there is a fanbase going crazy over new movies.

    Soooo you mean there are some people who asked for a movie that pushes toy-sales? ;)

  7. Captain Mutant

    “I never heard anybody say “You know what? I’d really love to see another TheLegoMovie movie”.”
    LOL – you’re clearly not orbiting the same circles I am then … :P

    But I see this “movie nobody asked for” trope over and over again on the internet when a movie doesn’t meet box office expectations.

    Last time I looked, movie execs don’t do what we ask for. They do what they hope will make them money. If that matches your desires, wonderful – but they didn’t do it because you asked for it ;)

  8. emummy

    I saw the movie Sunday at 1:30pm in 3D. The theater was very empty. Having seen so much of the movie intro in the trailer, I felt the first half of the movie very boring, the joke lines fell flat and the movie goes into cast musical numbers way too often, in fact a couple of characters complain about upcoming musical numbers. Having listened to said songs outside of the movie, I have to say that the soundtrack is pretty fun lyrically, but I usually take aversion to a movie that is a surprise musical. Now the concept of what is happening in the movie I think is genius. I loved what Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi was doing visually. The latter half of the movie which is not in trailer I had a complete turn around and really enjoyed the story’s message. The pre-scroll credits is fantastic. It’s still early days, but I definitely felt leaving the theater that this was my least favorite of the LEGO movies, it seems like diminishing returns from Batman to ninjago, I think I actually really enjoyed Ninjago, and I was rewatching the beginning of the Lego Batman movie and it is amazing… but then I think about the Robin daddy stuff and wince. When The LEGO movie came out, I bought a lot of the sets, but so many of the sets I thought were uninteresting and later on I sold all my LEGO move sets. For LEGO movie 2, even though I’m in awe of the size and cool factor of Apocalypseburg, none of the other sets interest apart from the classic space people. They are all weird or not useful piece wise. Take Emmet’s triple wheel cycle: it’s dumb fun in the movie but as a set in real life, it’s horrible. I would say the same for most of the sets and characters which are cool in the movie but the actual LEGO movie 2 line is disappointing. These are bad sets, and I feel many will not sell well and possibly go on sale. I’m only interested in the minifigures release. I bought everyone except for 3 of the larger LEGO Batman movie sets for the characters, and for Ninjago got the mini figure wave and Ninjago City. What I get from the general feeling of the movie is that Afols just want a resurrection of Classic Space.

  9. Greg Dlx

    I have seen the move last Sunday during an afternoon showing and like many the theater was possibly only 1/4 full.

    My wife who is not much into Lego did not think it matched the first movie’s appealing appearance. My daughter was slightly disappointed as she expected more “Friends-like” characters.
    I think I was the only one who enjoyed it.

    I read somewhere that one of the main reason the movie failed is that it has been produced too long after the original. Movies have their biggest success when released 2-4 years after the original.
    It seems to be a missed opportunity from TLG.

  10. Chris B

    I will see it eventually, I never make it to movies when they first come out because I prefer to avoid the crowd. I prefer a near deserted theater, makes the experience better IMO. I will say the novelty might have worn off for Lego movies, when TLM came out I remember there being a lot of excitement and everyone seemed pleasantly surprised that it was actually really good, which in my opinion gave the movie a lot of momentum. Since Hollywood ran out of ideas forever ago and TLC pumped out the Batman and Ninjago movies, now it’s just like “eh, another Lego movie/cashgrab. Whatevs.” It looks good and is probably entertaining but that’s just my perspective

  11. Chris B

    edit: just read the comments, and I agree with a lot of the points made. The trend of “show a ton of the movie in the trailer” needs to be curtailed. The last few movies I saw I felt like I was bored or unimpressed because the trailers showed so much. I guess you could just not watch previews, but a good trailer can build hype and excitement for a movie without giving too much away

  12. The Anonymous Hutt

    I liked all three of the previous films, but from the get-go this one seemed different to me, just from the marketing. I went and saw the film with a family friend, and was pretty disappointed. I felt like a huge part of the mood and tone of the first film was missing. Plus, the songs were distracting and, as much as I love Chris Pratt, “Rex” was a bit too much.

  13. The Anonymous Hutt

    I should also note that this is what real “movie fatigue” is, not the mess that happened with Solo: A Star Wars Story. (Which I found enjoyable by the way.)

  14. Bonesoup

    I agree, previews gave too many movie details away, you already knew the major plot going in. Saw the movie – disappointed. The first movie, I loved the huge immersive builds in the first movie, but in this movie the camera simply moved thru each scene so quick -no chance to admire anything. The kids in the theater laughed a few times at Uni-kitty but that’s about it.

  15. Colin Greening

    I haven’t seen it yet, although I plan on seeing it soon. My guess is just because it’s a sequel. We had three movies in the franchise over the past 5 years, two of which both came out in 2017. It might be good, but people are tired.

  16. Exxos

    I can’t help but think part of it was also that this movie apparently had massive holes in its marketing. The first I heard of this movie happening was the Statue of Liberty set here on TBB. Most of the people I know then only heard about it when I linked that to them as they have all mostly given up on TBB and only come here largely from my linking.

    So that’s about 20 people who only heard of it from one person who in turn just barely gleaned its existence from a set review about a week before its release. None of us have seen commercials, trailers, or even noticed the sets in stores until the last couple days. If our experience is not a fluke, there might well be a problem in the marketing delivery.

    As for seeing it, the closest theater showing it is 80km away, so I doubt I will get a chance with how movies are out for maybe a week or two at best.

  17. Håkan


    Maybe this depends on where you live. In Sweden, I’ve seen big movie posters put up near bus booths and such.

  18. LegoLegionary

    My wife and I saw the movie over the weekend and loved it. The theater was quite full, especially for a Sunday morning. Lots of families. I don’t think it quite lived up to the first, but I felt it was quite satisfying. I never saw the Batman or Ninjago movies, so perhaps I don’t have the fatigue others have expressed. I have no interest in Ninjago and if I want to see a Batman film, I will pick up the Nolan trilogy and watch that.

    Overall, I thought the film was very clever. It was very similar to the first, theme-wise, but still resonated with me. I am not surprised it isn’t doing as well for a number of reasons:

    1 – Lego movie fatigue. I can definitely see this. I’m starting to feel it with Marvel movies (which I love) but too many movies over too little time is starting to wear. The endless hype trains don’t help.
    2 – Movie theater experiences suck. I tend to go on Saturday or Sunday mornings when the crowds are low, because people don’t know how to behave in a movie anymore. There’s a special level of hell reserved for child molesters and people that talk in the theaters. A special hell.
    3 – Most movies today are trash and people are turning away from them. How many more times can Adam Sandler tell the same crappy jokes while promoting Pepto Bismol and Oreo? Since a good 80% of what comes out these days is pablum, the idea of going to the movies as a form of entertainment has declined overall. Movie ticket sales overall is declining, partly because most movies are terrible and partly because the movie going experience has gone down the tubes. Why waste your time at the theater when you have a 60″ TV at home with surround sound and the movie will be streaming in HD or on DVD next month? The popcorn and drinks are cheaper, and you can pause to go to the bathroom at any time. Plus, you don’t have to listen to the teens in the front row yelling, and you don’t get blinded by the flash when they take pictures of each other.

    I see less than 12 movies/year now, where I used to see 2-3/month. It’s just not worth it anymore. The movie has to look really amazing to make me go see it in a theater, as I can almost replicate the experience at home.

    Not surprised TLM2 isn’t doing as well, but I enjoyed it.

  19. DaBrickman

    As far as I’m concerned, this was a movie that didn’t require a sequel. The first was kinda okay-ish, save for the last twenty minutes, but no-where good enough to warrant more movies.

    And speaking of those last twenty minuttes… Those minutes, with their extremely heavy-handed moralisation, made me wary of watching the second movie. I see movies to relax and enjoy myself, not to have morality stuffed down my throat.

  20. Herbnosis

    Just a guess: whether it was a conscious decision or not by the people who didn’t see the movie on opening weekend, the reveal at the end of Lego Movie might make it tough for people to buy in to any sequels. I was skeptical about how they were going to draw me in when the audience already knows it’s imaginary (yes, it’s a movie; it’s all imaginary. You know what I mean.). But I have kids, and we’ve probably watched our Lego Movie DVD 50 times, so it didn’t matter if it was going to work, I was seeing this movie ASAP.

    With that in mind, the positive reviews should hopefully mean a big second weekend for people who didn’t think it would work a second time around. I guess we’ll see.

  21. lams

    So I went to see the movie on saturday with my wife and kids, neither of them liked the movie, I found it just OK.

    The movie-going audience is decreasing, that’s a fact, felt sad that the movie theater was nearly empty!

    The lackluster box office performance should warn lego of their strategies for the upcoming years; the numbers show that a sequel was not something people were willing to watch at a movie theater.

  22. Exxos

    @The Anonymous Hutt

    I am just talking about people in my circles, but the gripes seem to always be towards TBB covers too much outside what they are interested in and shows biases to one group or mentality where they shouldn’t. I figure a big part of it is that TBB is essentially the only English language lego site of substance, so when they see things that irritate them or pull them away from their safe space in the lego hobby, they overreact to it.


    I am out in the Mojave, so I would not see billboards (we have 2 and one has been a flash flood notice for the last 10+ years), but my friends are scattered across the world with most of them within 5 minutes travel of major city centers. Also, I think Sweden doesn’t count because Denmark can literally drive across some bridges and bury your cities in superfluous lego movie marketing materials. XD

  23. The Anonymous Hutt


    I know exactly what you mean, they are definitely biased at times. But hey, “They’re on the right side of history.”

  24. Nat

    I’m wondering how the free tickets that Lego was giving away figure into those totals? Because I would expect a lot of the more enthusiastic fans to be exactly the sorts who would buy Lego Movie 2 sets right away, thus getting free tickets. Are they counted at all in the box office take?

    Personally, I think it was not as good as the first, but also a bit more emotionally resonant than the first. Also, better than Lego Batman, and way better than Lego Ninjago (which I pretty much had to force myself to get through).

    I love the intermixing of minifigs and minidolls in the sets, and I hope this isn’t a movie-only thing, but something they’ll do more of in the future, since minidolls are apparently here to stay. (What I’d *really* prefer is if, instead of “boys’ sets” and “girls’ sets”, they got back to “kids’ sets”, with various themes but all using minifigs for “regular” people. Stick to the minidolls for nonhumans and the like.)

Comments are closed.