Why Will Ferrell Was Almost Cut From The Lego Movie
Will Ferrell came very close to having his entire performance in “The Lego Movie” – with everything live action scenes – end up on the cutting room floor, the film’s producer Dan Lin said at the PGA’s Produced By conference on Saturday.
Lin recalled the uphill battle that unfolded in the building blocks of the animated-live-action hybrid film, revealing that Warner Bros. originally wanted to cut the last bit of the film which included scenes featuring Ferrell.
In a chat with Chris Miller, who penned the script for the 2014 hit with his writing producer partner Phil Lord, Lin said the studio’s budget demands forced him to treat the family comedy as a ” independent film. The Rideback Ranch founder even had to pre-sell the basement set, which featured the human characters, to Legoland as an exhibit to partially fund the movie.
The set is where the character Ferrell (known as “The Man Upstairs”) and his son Finn are revealed to play out real-life events that take place in the Lego universe. The live-action sequence is also a central part of the film, adding a layer of depth in which Ferrell’s character realizes that the Lego villain named Business is based on him.
“When we finally put [the movie] for a test audience, real people, it tested very well and the movie worked,” Lin said. “And I got a call from the head of the studio [Kevin Tsujihara at the time] … but he said, ‘Dan, I have good news for you’ and I said, ‘Wow, what’s the good news?’ And he said, ‘You made such a great movie. You don’t need the live action anymore. Let’s just make an animated movie out of it.
Lin continued, “I’m like, ‘What? The reason we made the movie was for the live action. It was so personal to me, Chris and Phil – that’s why we makes the movie. [He said,] “No, we’re going to save $6 million if you don’t shoot the action live, and we’re releasing it as is.” And honestly, I was devastated. I left that office just devastated.
A spokesperson for Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Lin – who received the inaugural PGA Vance Van Patten Award for Entrepreneurship at the event – added that the studio later accepted the live action footage but offered “half of the budget”. Although the producer did not elaborate on specifics in terms of numbers, the film had an estimated budget of $60 million and ultimately grossed around $468 million worldwide. It received rave reviews from critics and fans alike, winning two BAFTA Awards and earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song for “Everything Is Awesome.”
“So everybody says, ‘The Lego Movie’ was oh, so obvious everybody should have made a movie like that,’ – it wasn’t obvious at all,” Lin added, later joking. saying he would “get a lot of heat” for giving behind-the-scenes details of the production process.
A New York Times article at the time described the film as a “surprise blockbuster” for Warner. The article also stated that Tsujihara was directly responsible for making “The Lego Movie,” having bought a company that makes Lego-themed video games in 2007.