Although toy films by no means guarantee the success of said toymaker’s sales (the ‘Bratz’ movie in 2011, for example, was a box office disaster and the Bratz brand has since faded into nothingness), the Danish Lego Group has seen a miraculous turn around in its fortunes since the release of its film, The Lego Movie. What started as a mediocre year in 2013 accelerated in the wake of the production to make Lego the world’s biggest toymaker, judging by sales in the first half of 2014.
Reporting revenues of more than $2 billion, Lego has finally overtaken “perennial No.1 toy company” Mattel, who reported revenues of only $2 billion. Mattel, founded in 1945, produces products including Barbie and Hot Wheels, but has missed a trick in the production of films, only opening its own in-house studio in October 2013 shortly before the release of the Lego Movie. Its first release is set to be an animate film called “Team Hot Wheels: The Origin of Awesome”. Mattel’s own revenues continued to disappoint as its iconic Barbie doll continued to perform poorly.
The nervousness of Lego executives about the release of the film proved to be unfounded, and the Warner Bros animated production “provided a significant boost to our sales”, according to Lego’s CFO John Goodwin. Although no one at the company had expected the movie to make any meaningful difference to Lego’s fortunes, profits were up 12 per cent as a result to £386.5 million during the first six months of 2014.
This performance comes after a period of sluggish growth for Lego, in line with the slow progress of the global toy market in general, which makes its turnaround all the more impressive. Goodwin said the company was “thrilled by the reception of the Lego Movie products that provided a significant boost to our sales during the first half of 2014”, and that the movie “celebrated the creative potential in all of us”. Not to mention the fact that movie itself grossed $500 million irrespective of the promotional effect it had on Lego Movie products.
The irony of this news will not be lost on the parents who took their children to watch the film. The plot centres on the crusade of a construction worker and some recognisable accomplices (including Batman) to take down ‘Lord Business’, using “anti-capitalist themes to achieve the aim of selling your kids more toys”. That Lord Business’s ‘Evil Lair’ is available to purchase for over £40 makes one wonder whose side Lego’s own executives are on.
A sequel, The Lego Movie 2, is due for release in 2017.