The Book of Life director Jorge R. Guttierez has exited the Warner Bros. LEGO spinoff Billion Brick Race. WB’s once-farfetched idea of creating a viable animated movie franchise based on its LEGO toy property has resulted in the critical and box office successes of The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie, along with the relatively underwhelming The LEGO Ninjago Movie. The studio aimed at further expanding the franchise universe with Billion Brick Race, with a script from Jason Segel (The Muppets) and Iron Man 3 scribe Drew Pearce.
News on the project went cold until 2017, when Book of Life‘s Jorge R. Guttierez reportedly boarded Billion Brick Race as director, taking over from Pearce. With no available plot details or synopsis for Billion Brick Race, it remained unclear just how the spinoff would fit into the existing LEGO franchise universe. Guttierez’s involvement was intriguing, given The Book of Life‘s critical success (even if it was perceived to have been a box office failure).
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Now, however, according to a Facebook post by Guttierez (via Flickering Myth), the hunt for a new director will have to begin. Here is Guttierez’s post:
I would like to publicly and from the bottom of my heart thank everyone I worked with at Briksburg, LEGO and WAG. These last 9 months were a rollercoaster of thrills to say the least. I met so many amazing new people and learned a ton from all these incredible artists, directors, writers, editors, producers and execs. I leave a better filmmaker and it’s because of you all. May our paths cross again. Gracias mis amigos. And as I toasted on my first day there, ‘May we slip n slide on the blood of our enemies!!!’
As to where Guttierez’s departure leaves the state of Billion Brick Race‘s development, it’s anyone’s guess. The director’s statement has nothing but the expected praise for the development team, with no specifics on what led him to depart the film. Guttierez is well versed in animation, with several short films under his belt. The Book of Life was praised for its vibrant look, but many felt the overall story was too slight.
Jorge Guttierez’s departure may have less to do with his compatibility with the LEGO movie universe than the state of that universe itself. The LEGO Movie was a smash, pleasing fans and critics and hauling in almost half a billion dollars at the worldwide box office. The LEGO Batman Movie was similarly praised by fans and critics, but saw diminished returns, and The LEGO Ninjago Movie failed to move those same fans or critics, and when compared to the flagship release was a box office failure.
All of this points to Warner Bros. retooling their spinoff approach and most likely diverting their resources to shore up The LEGO Movie 2, which will be released in February of 2019. With LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller rewriting the script for director Mike Mitchell, the followup is clearly being positioned as a return to form for the franchise. While this may leave the future of LEGO spinoffs in doubt, a renewed focus on the heart and irreverent humor that so captivated audiences the first time around could prove the wise decision in the long run.
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Source: Flickering Myth