All the right conditions existed this weekend for The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part to be a huge hit. Critics loved it (84 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), and so have audiences (A- Cinemascore). Moviegoers have been starved for a big new release since the holidays; the last two weekends haven’t even seen a major release; and there hasn’t been a major film directed at families with kids since Mary Poppins over the holidays. Coming off the hugely successful and beloved The LEGO Movie five years ago, The Second Part should have been a shoe-in for $50 million at the box office.
Unfortunately, it came in at a tepid $34.4 million, well below expectations. That’s less than half the opening weekend of the original ($69 million), and considerably less than the $53 million opening of The LEGO Batman Movie, although it did fare better than the $20 million opening of The LEGO Ninjago Movie. So what gives? Why the disappointing box office? Most box-office pundits suggests oversaturation — that four LEGO movies in five years was just too much. That may be true. It may also be a general malaise with moviegoing overall — without any huge new releases outside of the disappointing Glass this year, moviegoers may have temporarily fell out of the habit of going to theaters. Or, perhaps, parents are waiting until school winter breaks to make their way to see The LEGO Movie 2. It’s hard to say exactly what went wrong here — it’s a real head scratcher.
Over-saturation may have been a problem — it’s what many pinned on the middling box-office numbers for Solo: A Star Wars Story — but then again, Marvel churns out two or three movies a year, and those movies continue to put up record-breaking numbers. I think it may just be that the novelty on LEGO movies wore out, that the first one was special, but moviegoers weren’t as interested in seeing another one, no matter how good it may have been.