There’s no pleasant way to say this, so let’s rip this Band-Aid off right now:
Phil Lord and Chris Miller will not be directing the sequel to The Lego Movie.
Choke back a sob. Curse the heavens. Scream something unintelligible and overturn the nearest table (in slow-motion, if possible). Let it all out. The guys who made 21 Jump Street uncharacteristically awesome and turned soulless product placement into childlike wonderment are moving on to greener, non-Lego Movie sequel pastures.
Of course, this isn’t really the newest of news. A month ago, Lord and Miller basically said the same thing: “it looks like, if the sequel happens, we’ll be producing it.” And that is indeed the case. But here’s the new news: according to Deadline a young upstart named Chris McKay will be taking Lord and Miller’s place in the director’s chair(s).
Who is this McKay? First and foremost, he’s known for the Adult Swim series Robot Chicken, of which he’s directed 40+ episodes, plus the extra-long special Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III. As far as The Lego Movie is concerned, McKay was an animation co-director under Lord and Miller (so perhaps “young upstart” isn’t really — or at all — accurate).
So McKay is well grounded in the art of Lego Movie-ing. And as a plus, he comes with an emphatic Tweet of approval from the big men on tiny, plastic campus.
Very excited @buddboetticher is directing LEGO 2. He was the underheralded hero of the 1st one. @philiplord & I will still be very involved.
— Chris Miller (@chrizmillr) March 12, 2014
There’s all the proof you need. Lord and Miller are still right behind The Lego Movie 2, assuaging our fears via Tweet and hovering just behind the sequel like a parent that promises not to let go of the bike even as they’re obviously letting go of the bike.
And all Tweets aside, Lord and Miller are definitely letting go of the bike on this one. They’ve done it once before, to questionable results. People raved about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, but when Lord and Miller moved on to something new, they passed their directorial duties to a duo a little lower on the totem pole (one Head of Story and one story artist, respectively), staying on only to write the screenplay. And when the second film came out, those raves curdled into a resounding “ehhh.”
In the case of the next Lego Movie, they’re not even writing the screenplay. That job’s been passed off to Michelle Morgan & Jared Stern- the former responsible for Girl Most Likely, the latter for Mr. Popper’s Penguins and The Internship. I can feel an “ehhh” revving already.
Hopefully, with Lord and Miller’s involvement, The Lego Movie 2 will turn out alright. Preferably better than alright; if not at the same level of awesome as The Lego Movie, than at least… two thirds as awesome. That’s probably a fair assumption. But they’ll need to produce their butts off- not just on a creative level, but to fend off the advances of Warner Bros. and LEGO, who announced a Lego Ninjago spin-off about two hours after The Lego Movie proved a success. Lord and Miller need to watch their backs- one wrong step and they’ll be mired in a half-assed Lego Cinematic Universe. We’ve got way too many of those already.