Box Office: ‘Lego Movie’ Starts Stacking Gold Bricks

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Warner Bros. 3D animated picture is picking up steam during the daylight hours

“The Lego Movie” racked up $400,000 in 10 p.m. shows on Thursday, while “The Monuments Men” enjoyed a solid $550,000  debut.

Despite “The Monuments Men”s’ early lead, “The Lego Movie” is picking up steam in the daylight hours. It has generated an estimated $2 million by mid-day Friday, according to an individual with knowledge of the totals.

The first animated movie from Warner Bros. in three years is expected to open to north of $40 million. Many box office prognosticators expect that figure could climb even higher, depending on the severity of the winter storms that are expected to hit the East Coast this weekend.

Also read: ‘The Lego Movie’ Review: Funny Pieces Don’t Click With Heavy-Handed Message (Video)

In a promising sign, “The Lego Movie” is on track to become the second-biggest advance ticket-seller among all animated films, right behind 2010’s “Toy Story 3,” Fandango told TheWrap earlier this week.

“The Monuments Men,” a World War II action caper starring George Clooney, Matt Damon and Bill Murray, will expand this weekend to 3,083 locations. The Columbia Pictures and Fox 2000 release is expected to generate in the high teens to $20 million.

The film screened Thursday in  2,494 theaters with shows starting at 7 p.m. and the studio is likening its reception to “Captain Phillips,” another adult-skewing film that earned $600,000 in late night shows en route to a $25.7 million opening weekend.

The PG-rated “The Lego Movie” will debut on 3,650 theaters nationwide, many of which will offer 3D showings and with them a healthy surcharge. In a sign of confidence, Warner Bros. is already planning a sequel.

Critically, “The Lego Movie” has a clear advantage with 97 percent of reviewers rating it “fresh” compared to the 33 percent “rotten” rating “The Monuments Men” suffered on Rotten Tomatoes. A few months ago, those results would have sounded mighty unlikely.