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‘LEGO Ninjago’ Short Film ‘The Master’ to Screen before ‘Storks’

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Storks is set to fly in theaters in a little over two weeks. Anticipation for this film might be higher than usual since this is the film that Warner Animation Group (WAG) is following up with after its breakout hit The LEGO Movie. Speaking of which, while The LEGO Ninjago Movie won’t be in theaters for at least another year, WAG already has a familiar game plan in store to build up anticipation for that movie.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the studio has unveiled the existence of an animated short film, set within the LEGO Cinematic Universe (LCU), that will play in theaters in front of Storks.

Titled The Master: A LEGO Ninjago Short, it features Master Wu (Jackie Chan) getting into a conflict with Chicken, voiced by Abbi Jacobson (who’s voicing Nya in The LEGO Ninjago Movie). Justin Theroux (Garmadon in The LEGO Ninjago Movie) is the narrator of the story.

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(Image courtesy of Screen Rant)

The five-minute short was directed by visual effects artist Jon Saunders (Nike’s “The Last Game” commercial), from a screenplay by Saunders and Ross Evans (Stage17’s Ian), based on a story conceived by Saunders, Evans, Carey Yost (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water), and Remington D. Donavan. Ryan Halprin, creative executive at Dan Lin’s Lin Pictures, is producing. Saunders summed up the story with this description on USA Today:

“It’s control vs. chaos. Wu is this character who’s very much in control of his entire world, almost obsessive compulsive (about) maintaining perfect order. Chicken is free flow and chaos. When Master Wu accepts that it’s OK his temple got ruined, that nothing is perfect, that’s when they come into harmony.”

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(Image courtesy of Screen Rant)

Here’s a clip from the short (also from USA Today):

Again, if this sounds familiar, it should. It’s a tactic famously employed by Pixar ever since the studio broke out with Toy Story in 1995. Disney also began adopting this strategy, beginning with Paperman in front of Wreck-It Ralph. For Warner Animation Group, it’s just one more thing to borrow from the Pixar playbook. WAG was built on the basis of being a ‘think tank’ of writers and directors who came up with ideas for animated movies, just like Pixar (also a strategy being used by Disney).

But in this case, the important stuff will be all the things that make WAG different from Pixar and Disney. If the studio’s Annecy 2016 panel was any indication, Storks might be the best representation of the kind of house style that WAG wants to build: modern-day remixes of the sounds and images that created classic American cartoons. All with a collection of A-list talent drawing from the studios’ rich history with animation (Looney Tunes/Hanna-Barbera) and using it to build original features and franchises that marry classic aesthetics with new sensibilities.

Storks flies into theaters this month on September 23. The LEGO Ninjago Movie follows on September 22, 2017.

What do you think? Are you excited for the LEGO Ninjago short?

Edited by: Kelly Conley

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About Brandon Smith

Brandon is your average nerd with a love for nerdy things (games, comics, anime/manga, etc.). He also loves reading and writing and plans to be an author someday. For now, he writes with passion and curiosity about the world of animation. He lives with his family in North Carolina and is currently attending college.