“The LEGO Movie” far exceeded expectations this weekend by taking in almost $70 million. That is the biggest debut of the year to date and the second biggest February opening ever behind “The Passion of the Christ” in 2004. This boffo box office was no doubt boosted by stellar notices, with the film scoring 97 among the top tier at Rotten Tomatoes and 82 over at MetaCritic.
Could this success translate into Oscar gold next year? A nomination for Best Animated Feature should be a no-brainer. However, there are two hurdles the movie will have to overcome to win.
The first is this early release date. Almost a whole year will have gone by before voting begins for the 2014 Academy Awards. While this is a huge hurdle for most contenders, it is less so for animated features. One of this year’s nominees, “The Croods,” was released on March 22. Other early releases that reaped bids in this race include: “Ice Age” (March 15, 2002), “Coraline” (Feb. 6, 2009), “How to Train Your Dragon” (March 26, 2010) and Osar winner “Rango” (March 4, 2011).
The second hurdle could be older members of the academy not connecting with the material. Last year, “Wreck-It Ralph” reaped a bid but lost to “Brave.” That film was focused on the video game culture which was foreign to some Oscar voters.
Luckily for “The LEGO Movie,” the plot is not about Legos themselves; rather, it takes place in a universe where everything is made out of Legos. As Legos have been sold in the United States since the 1960s, even if the older Academy voters haven’t played with them, they will remember buying them for their kids or grandchildren when they first came out.
As such, “The LEGO Movie” may well be the frontrunner for Best Animated Feature and any other contender is going to need a giant foot to stomp it out.
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