While talking with “21 Jump Street” directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller about their upcoming (and, it should be noted, totally wonderful) adaptation of the beloved 1980s television series (and we’ll have their thoughts and insights on that soon), we had to ask them about their future projects, including their new animated “Lego” film. It was announced last fall they would be taking on the green-lit movie at Warner Bros., with “Robot Chicken” helmer Chris McKay joining them as well, and they confirmed the live action/animated hybrid is next.
“Our next project is animated,” Lord said. “And we’re looking for another live action movie. So who knows. Maybe a lot of people will want to see ‘Jump Street’ and we’ll embark on our seven-film saga.” But it seems people are literally breaking down doors to get these guys to work on their films.
While we were chatting with the duo, Neal H. Moritz, the producer of such bombastic action extravaganzas as “Torque,” “S.W.A.T.” and all of the “Fast and Furious” movies (and one of “21 Jump Street’s” producers) made his way into the hotel room and whispered something about wanting to talk to Lord and Miller about an upcoming project. But that certainly would have nothing to do with a “21 Jump Street” sequel, right? “We certainly had tons of fun on the first one,” Phil coyly remarked, before trailing off.
For the upcoming “Lego” movie, the duo will be working with Warner Bros. and Animal Logic, the animation studio behind “Happy Feet” and Zack Snyder‘s animated owl fantasy “Legend of the Guardians.” It’s been previously reported that while the film will be computer animated it will have the purposefully hand-crafted feel of stop motion animation. “It’s the craziest, wildest action movie that we’ve done to this date,” Chris Miller said. He then added: “But of course it’s all on Lego-scale, so it’s tiny.” As for Lord, he even has a slogan lined up saying, “The tagline we keep pitching is ‘The Smallest Movie Of The Summer.'”
And for the duo, they will continue to try and juggle live action and animated movies simultaneously. “That’s the plan,” Lord said. “We’re working on ‘Lego’ with this guy Chris McKay from ‘Robot Chicken‘ and his background is as an editor so he’s cutting the animatic [animated storyboards] really fast…Then this summer he moves to Australia [where Animal Logic is based] and we stay here and watch dailies everyday for the next couple of years.”
Chris Miller then elaborated on their strategy: “The plan is that after the summer, once we’ve got the story more locked and the designs more complete, then the crew that’s here in Santa Monica moves to Australia and we stay behind and hopefully we will have enough bandwidth to prep a live action movie while spending a lot of time, everyday, noodling…” Miller then summed up their next few years succinctly (with a good natured chuckle): “We’re not going to be sleeping.”
The filmmakers noted that Gore Verbinski tried this when he started working on “Rango,” but then got sucked into the animation process. They freely admit that this could be the case with them, too. But they find inspiration in another big filmmaker that seems to be able to balance the two worlds. “It’s going to be tough. People warn us,” Miller said. “But Tim Burton does it okay!”
Look for more from our interview with Miller and Lord this week. “Lego” is slated to hit theaters in 2014.