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The LEGO Batman Movie is a 2017 3D computer-animated superhero comedy film, directed by Chris McKay, written by Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, and John Whittington, with Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the writers and directors of The Lego Movie, serving as its producers. The film, an international co-production of the United States, Australia, and Denmark, is a spin-off installment of The Lego Movie. Its story focuses on the DC Comics character Batman as he attempts to overcome his greatest fear to stop the Joker's latest plan. While Will Arnett reprises his role as Batman for the film, the other major characters were voiced by Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, and Ralph Fiennes. The Lego Batman Movie is both the third feature film produced by Warner Animation Group and the second based on Lego properties.
The Lego Batman Movie premiered in Dublin, Ireland, on January 29, 2017, and was released in the United States on February 10, 2017. Internationally, the film was released in 3D, RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema, and IMAX 3D. The film received positive reviews and has grossed almost $301 million worldwide.
Within the Lego Universe, Batman continues to protect Gotham City and fight crime, but during his latest mission to stop the Joker from destroying the city, he hurts his arch-rival's feelings by telling him he is not as important in his life as he thinks he is, leading Joker to seek the ultimate revenge on him. The following day, Batman's alter ego, Bruce Wayne, attends the city's winter gala, which is celebrating both the retirement of Commissioner Gordon and the ascension of his daughter Barbara as the city's new police commissioner, only to be infuriated by Barbara's plans to restructure the police to function without the need of Batman. Without warning, Joker crashes the party with the city's other villains, all of whom surrender, except for Harley Quinn, who disappears during the confusion.
Suspecting his arch-rival is up to something, Batman plots to steal Superman's Phantom Zone Projector, a device that can banish anyone to the Phantom Zone - a prison housing some of the most dangerous villains in the Lego multiverse. Just as he plans his heist of the device, Alfred intervenes and advises him to take charge of Dick Grayson, whom Bruce unwittingly adopted as his ward during the gala. Reluctantly agreeing to do so, Batman fosters Dick as Robin, at which point the pair successfully recover the Projector from the Fortress of Solitude and break into Arkham Asylum to send Joker to the Phantom Zone. Annoyed at his recklessness and suspecting his arch-rival wanted to be sent there, Barbara locks up the pair.
While the Projector is being seized as evidence, Harley steals it back as part of Joker's plan and frees him, allowing him to return to Gotham with all the villains that had been trapped in the Phantom Zone. Realizing that the city does need him, Barbara releases Batman and Robin and teams up with them and Alfred to stop the Joker. Although Batman finds himself able to trust and rely on his new team, upon reaching Wayne Island, he chooses to send them away rather than losing them like his parents. Upon facing him alone, Joker expresses the belief that Batman is incapable of change and zaps him to the Phantom Zone before stealing the Batcave's stash of confiscated bombs. Arriving in the Zone, Batman witnesses the harm his selfishness has caused to everyone and slowly accepts his greatest fear. Making a deal with the Zone's gatekeeper, Phyllis, to be allowed back to Gotham to retrieve the Zone's escaped prisoners, Batman arrives in time to save his teammates, apologizing to them for his actions and requesting their help to stop Joker.
Realizing that Joker plans to use the explosives he took to destroy the city's Energy Facility, thus causing the city to come apart and be destroyed, Batman turns Barbara into Batgirl before he and his team, along with the city's other villains, who felt neglected by Joker, manage to successfully send back the escaped villains to the Phantom Zone. However, the group fails to stop Joker's bombs from going off as the explosion begins to tear the city apart at the plate's beneath it. Knowing this was his fault, Batman reluctantly convinces Joker that he is the true reason for being the hero he is, before they, their friends and allies, and the city's inhabitants, chain-link themselves together and pull the plates back together, saving the city.
With the city saved, Batman prepares to be taken back into the Phantom Zone to fulfill his bargain, only to be rejected by Phyllis, who chooses to let him remain after seeing how much he had changed to save everyone. Batman allows Joker and the rest of his rogue's gallery to temporarily escape, with the confidence that whenever they return, they will be no match for the combined team of himself, Robin, Batgirl, and Alfred.
In October 2014, it was announced that Will Arnett was set to reprise his role in the Lego Batman spin-off film, which Chris McKay would direct for a 2017 release. McKay was earlier attached to direct The Lego Movie Sequel, but it had been pushed back. On October 30, 2014, it was announced that Australia-based animation studio Animal Logic was in talks to produce the next three Lego films, and the New South Wales government would make financial contributions to all the films.
On July 16, 2015, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Arnett's Arrested Development co-star Michael Cera was set to voice Robin, while Dan Lin, Roy Lee, Phil Lord, and Christopher Miller were announced as producers. On August 12, 2015, it was revealed that Zach Galifianakis would voice the Joker in the film. On October 16, 2015, Rosario Dawson signed on to voice Barbara Gordon, the daughter of police commissioner James Gordon, who later became Batgirl. On November 3, 2015, Ralph Fiennes was cast in the film to voice Alfred Pennyworth's character. On November 9, 2015, Deadline first reported that Mariah Carey would voice Commissioner Gordon, which was later confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter to be false, and that she would instead voice the Mayor of Gotham City, McCaskill. In July 2016, it was revealed Jenny Slate would voice Harley Quinn in the movie, and on November 30, 2016, it was announced that Billy Dee Williams would reprise his role as Harvey Dent from Tim Burton's Batman film. On January 31, 2017, Chris Hardwick announced on an episode of his Comedy Central program @midnight that he is part of the film's cast. On February 2, 2017, one week before the film's release, it was revealed that Héctor Elizondo was voicing Commissioner Gordon. Conan O'Brien, Riki Lindhome, Zoë Kravitz, and more were revealed to round out the cast of villains on February 3, 2017.
Batman and pop culture references
Main article: List of cameos in Lego
As part of its production, the movie was designed to make numerous references to previous Batman movies, cartoons, and comics. These include the 1940s Batman serials; the films Batman (1966), Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995), Batman & Robin (1997), Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), and Suicide Squad (2016); the television shows Batman (1960s), Batman: The Animated Series (1990s), and Batman Beyond (2000s); and the comics Detective Comics #27 (Batman's introductory story), The Dark Knight Returns, and Gotham by Gaslight. In addition, other references also include previous costumes worn by Batman and Robin and the various Batmobiles used. In most cases, their appearances in the movie are done in a Lego-style, except footage from a live-action shot of Adam West's depiction of Batman in the 1960s Batman show.
Alongside Joker, the main antagonist of the film's story, and Superman, who features heavily and has notable links to the Christopher Reeve films Superman (1978) and its sequel Superman II (1980), many other DC characters, both villains associated with Batman and other DC superheroes, feature in the film. The film's villains who have been featured in Batman comics, films, and cartoons include Penguin; Man-Bat; Captain Boomerang; Egghead; Crazy Quilt; Eraser; Polka-Dot Man; Mime; Tarantula; King Tut, from the 1960s series; Killer Moth; March Harriet; Zodiac Master; the Mutant Leader, from The Dark Knight Returns; Doctor Phosphorus; Magpie; Calculator; Hugo Strange; an unidentified version of Red Hood; the Kabuki Twins, from The Batman; Gentleman Ghost; Clock King; Calendar Man; Kite Man; Catman; Zebra-Man; and a variation of Condiment King, from Batman: The Animated Series. The other DC heroes who feature, both from the Justice League and Super Friends, include Wonder Woman; Aquaman; Cyborg; Green Arrow; Black Canary; Hawkman; Hawkgirl; Martian Manhunter; Apache Chief; Black Vulcan; El Dorado; Samurai; Wonder Dog; the Wonder Twins; and Gleek. Although not part of the DC franchise, Iron Man from Marvel Comics is referenced in the movie as part of a small joke about Batman's password for entering the Batcave.
The film also features characters from other notable franchises and movie series, with them following the same narrative of The Lego Movie in that they came from worlds that co-exist alongside others of the Lego Universe, which are made up of Lego playsets of the various media franchises. These additional characters include Medusa; the Creature from the Black Lagoon; Dracula; King Kong; the Daleks from Doctor Who; the Wicked Witch of the West and her flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz; the Kraken from Clash of the Titans; Agent Smith and his clones from The Matrix; Bruce, the great white shark from Jaws; Voldemort from Harry Potter; the Eye of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings; the Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptors from Jurassic Park; and the Gremlins. How the Gremlins attack a plane references The Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet".
The film also includes Batman watching the scene from Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise says, "You complete me"; this line was previously quoted by The Joker in The Dark Knight. The film's other references include Pulp Fiction, Gleaming the Cube, and Gymkata.
Main article: The Lego Batman Movie: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The film's original score was composed by Lorne Balfe and featured Red Hot Chili Peppers' drummer Chad Smith. The soundtrack was released on February 3, 2017, on CD and for digital download, while the vinyl version will be released on May 19, 2017.
The film's main premiere was conducted in Dublin, Ireland, on January 29, 2017. It went into general release on February 8; it was released in Denmark on February 9 and in the United States the day after. Its overall release saw movie theatres displaying the film in 3D, RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema, and IMAX, though the latter format was restricted to 2D for North America, while international countries could view it in IMAX 3D.
The first teaser trailer for The Lego Batman Movie was released on March 24, 2016, and features the song "Black and Yellow" by Wiz Khalifa. It was attached to showings of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in theatres. A second teaser trailer was released on March 28, 2016, and features references to all live-action iterations of Batman, from the 1960's Batman TV series to Batman v Superman. A third trailer was released on July 23, 2016. A fourth trailer was released on November 4, 2016. A Story Pack for the toys-to-life video game Lego Dimensions based on The Lego Batman Movie was released on February 10, 2017, alongside the film. The pack adds a six-level story campaign adapting the film's events and includes playable figures of Robin and Batgirl, a driveable Batwing, and a constructible gateway model based on the Batcomputer. A Fun Pack including Excalibur Batman and his Bionic Steed was also released the same day.
On January 14, 2017, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Chevrolet unveiled a life-sized Lego Batmobile inspired by the design featured in the film, constructed from around 350,000 Lego pieces. As a related promotion, a Bat-Signal (alternating between Batman's emblem and the Chevrolet logo) was projected on the Renaissance Center over the weekend, and Chevrolet released a new television commercial tying into the film, featuring the Batmobile as a crossover with its ongoing "Real People, Not Actors" campaign.
Warner Bros. released several promotional tie-ins on the week of the movie's release. LEGO billboard versions of several TV shows were shown outside of the studio lot, which took 300 hours to make out of 10,000 bricks. The Big Bang Theory included a LEGO version of the opening sequence in the episode "The Locomotion Reverberation" that first aired on CBS. In addition, the network aired two commercials featuring Batman and the cast.
The CW featured LEGO end cards for Supergirl, The Flash, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, and Arrow, respectively, that aired on the week of the movie's release. In addition, all four DC shows also include a special variant of the Berlanti Productions logo that featured Batman's cameo and a new recording from Greg Berlanti's real-life father.
As of April 9, 2017, The Lego Batman Movie has grossed $172.9 million in the United States and Canada and $127.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide gross of $300.6 million, against a production budget of $80 million.
In the United States and Canada, The Lego Batman Movie opened alongside two other sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and John Wick: Chapter 2, and was projected to gross around $60 million in its opening weekend. It earned $2.2 million from Thursday night previews and $15 million on Friday. It went on to open with $53 million, finishing first at the box office. In its second weekend, the film grossed $32.7 million (a drop of 38.4%), again topping the box office; with the additional President's Day holiday on Monday, it made a total of $42.7 million for the weekend. In its third weekend of release, the film dropped to second at the box office, behind newcomer Get Out, grossing $19.2 million (a drop of 41.2%).
Outside North America, the film was simultaneously released in 61 countries and was expected to gross around $40 million over its first three days. It ended up grossing $37 million in its opening weekend, including $9.3 million in the United Kingdom, $2.6 million in Mexico, $2.3 million in Germany, and $2.2 million in Russia.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 90%, based on 228 reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “The Lego Batman Movie continues its block-buster franchise’s winning streak with another round of dizzyingly funny – and beautifully animated – family-friendly mayhem.” On Metacritic, the film has a score of 75 out of 100, based on 48 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A–” on an A+ to F scale.
Mike Ryan of Uproxx gave the film a positive review, praising its comedy and saying: “The LEGO Batman Movie isn’t the same experience as watching The LEGO Movie, but I also don’t think it’s trying to be. It’s trying to be a fun superhero movie with clever callbacks to previous Batman films (every single Batman movie all the way back to the 1940s serials are referenced) that can, at least, provide DC superhero fans with a taste of fun amidst all the doom and gloom. (That can either be a reference to ‘the real world’ or the current DC Cinematic Universe films, you can choose either one you want or both.) And at that, The LEGO Batman Movie succeeds.” Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a “B+” and wrote, “LEGO Batman revs so fast and moves so frenetically that it becomes a little exhausting by the end. It flirts with being too much of a good thing. But rarely has corporate brainwashing been so much fun and gone down with such a delightful aftertaste.” Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times was positive in his review, saying, “In its best moments, this gag-a-minute Bat-roast serves as a reminder that, in the right hands, a sharp comic scalpel can be an instrument of revelation as well as ridicule.”