One of the most anticipated sequels in feature animation is The LEGO Movie Sequel, an aptly-titled sequel to the 2014 breakout hit that put Warner Animation Group on the map. Truthfully, whoever sits in the director’s chair has the trickiest job in the world: figuring out how to make a sequel that lives up to the original while succeeding in its own right. With the LEGO Cinematic Universe (LCU) having emerged as one of Warner Bros.’ top franchises, there’s equal pressure for the studio to get the right person for the job. And last month, they certainly appeared to have finally settled on who they see as ‘the right person’.
Broken recently by The Hollywood Reporter, the studio has hired Mike Mitchell to take over the director’s chair for The LEGO Movie Sequel. He will direct from a recent draft of the screenplay by Raphael Bob-Waksberg.
Rob Schrab, who was previously named director, left for reasons that are being referred to simply as “creative differences.”
While Mike Mitchell has directed mostly for live-action (the most notable being Disney’s 2005 cult film Sky High), he began his animation career as an additional story artist on DreamWorks Animation’s Antz. His directorial debut in feature animation would—ironically enough—be a sequel: 2010’s Shrek Forever After. With the exception of the live-action sequences he directed for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, it would be six years before he would flex his directorial muscles in animation again for DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls.
From a technical standpoint, Mitchell is the type of director that studios in general tend to like: an assured hand. Trolls proved that with its utilization of bizarre humor, creative visuals, and musical sequences. This combination of elements made Trolls a hit at the box office and made Mitchell an attractive choice in town. In fact, he was being courted by several animation studios before he accepted the job at Warners.
Director turnaround isn’t that uncommon in animation. While I could spend the next several sentences stating examples, I will simply say that Brave, The Good Dinosaur, and this year’s Captain Underpants are just a few of the more notable instances of this happening. Directors can get replaced for a variety of reasons, but when you are working with a franchise as big as this one, the main reasoning is clear: they want somebody who can handle big-budget animated franchise films, and it’s a plus if they can manage to add a little something of their own to the franchise’s established formula.
In summary, Mike Mitchell undoubtedly has big shoes to fill in following up Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s smash hit, but like I said up top, hopefully he’ll prove to be the right person for the job.
The LEGO Movie Sequel hits theaters on February 8, 2019.
What do you think? Do you approve of Mike Mitchell as director of LEGO Movie 2? If not, what other directors in animation would have been better for the job?
Edited by: Kelly Conley