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Can Warner Bros Turn LEGO Into a Blockbuster?

Warner Brothers
CNBC.com
Warner Brothers

In Hollywood when something works, everyone jumps on the bandwagon.

This summer that proven trend is movies based on toys. Now Warner Bros. is trying its hand at turning the beloved Lego brand into a movie. Lego has turned down several movie ideas in the past, but now it's agreed to work with Warner Bros. which is developing a family-friendly comedy adventure, that's a mix of live action and animation set in the Lego world.

Warner is smart to look to game brands. This summer's Transformers sequel has the biggest movie so far this year, produced by Hasbro, along with Paramount and DreamWorks. Last week Paramount released "GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra," which it also produced with Hasbro and it topped the weekend, grossing $109 million worldwide.

And Hasbro is smart to consider a movie play. Hasbro generated $480 in sales of Transformers toys after the first film opened in 2007. Stiefel Nicolas analyst Drew Crum projects this summer's sequel will generate sales of at least $550 million in Transformers toys this year. Needham & Company analyst Sean McGowan tells me that Hasbro should benefit from an additional $150 million in revenue thanks to the G.I. Joe movie, reviving a dormant brand.

Legos are different than Transformers or G.I. Joe figurines in that the brand doesn't come with a built-in narrative. The whole point of Legos is that they encourage kids to build their own stories. In contrast G.I. Joe and Transformers come with an established mythology, which leads filmmakers to their story lines. This means that Lego filmmakers have a huge amount of freedom, but that also poses a challenge.

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This isn't Lego's first foray into the entertainment space. The Danish toymaker has released direct-to-DVD animated movies and has worked with Warner Bros., licensing their characters for Lego figures. And Warner Bros. video game publisher TT Games has produced "Lego Star Wars" and two other Lego-themed game titles, with "Lego Rock Band" in the works.

But this is certainly the first full length Lego feature.

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