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In an interview with Esquire, McKay said that when he first explained the idea for the film, friends were skeptical.
"When I told people I was working on 'The LEGO Movie,' they were like, 'That's the sh*ttiest idea I've ever heard of.' They thought it was like 'Battleship,' and I don't blame them," McKay told the magazine's Culture Blog.
McKay added that that opinion also briefly seeped into Warner Bros.'s psyche, prompting the studio to temporarily shelve the project. Another problem, according to McKay, was concern over the logistics and plausibility of achieving the ambitious stop-motion visual style McKay and co. had planned.
Thankfully, the quick-thinking McKay put together a short clip of the film's protagonist, Emmett, "auditioning" for the movie, conveying both the style and tone that McKay hoped to turn into a feature. Warner Bros. loved it, and "The Lego Movie" was born.
The film takes influences from a host of sources, McKay said, including Pixar, Adult Swim stop-motion series "Robot Chicken" (on which McKay has worked), and stop-motion legends Aardman Animations (the folks behind classics such as "Wallace and Gromit" and "Chicken Run"). Aardman even lent some of its animators to "The Lego Movie," giving the flick some serious pedigree.
"We knew this looks like the most cynical cash grab of all time," McKay told Esquire, but "it really was a labor of love."
"The Lego Movie" opens Friday.