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Secrets behind The Lego Batman Movie

Film & TV

Hollywood comedian Zach Galifianakis remembers the excitement he felt when his phone rang and the voice on the other end asked if he wanted to play the ultimate villain, The Joker.

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Some of acting’s greats have brought the physically and psychologically damaged character to life in blockbuster films, including Oscar winners Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Jared Leto.

“I said, ‘Yes, of course I do’,” the comedian, eager to sign up, immediately responded in the phone call.

“Then they said, ‘It’s the toy movie’.”

Galifianakis laughs as he recalls that initial offer and the brief disappointment he felt.

Warner Bros may not have been wooing him to play Batman’s villain in a live-action film, but his decision to accept voicing an animated Lego version of The Joker in The Lego Batman Movie turned out to be a winner, with multiple sequels in the works.

The film, with its smart, irreverent humour that drew both young and adult audiences, is proving one of the biggest box office hits of 2017.

It has already made $US300 million ($A394 million) at the worldwide box office, including a $US53 million opening weekend in North America.

It is another hit for Australia’s Animal Logic, the Sydney-based animation and visual effects studio involved in movies including the Oscar-winning Happy Feet and The Lego Movie.

The Lego Batman Movie’s director, Chicago-born Chris McKay, said Animal Logic had a big advantage in attracting talented animators to work on the film in Sydney.

“Because Sydney is such an attractive city for artists to live in, Animal Logic has artists and crafts people from all over the world,” McKay, who lived in Sydney for more than three years while making 2014’s The Lego Movie and then returning for The Lego Batman Movie, told AAP.

“You get to work with people from Europe, Japan, South America.

“They all go to Sydney because it is a lovely place to live and that is great for me because I get all of these people from different backgrounds, influences and can bring different things to the table.”


The film was a global collaboration, with McKay and his crew in Sydney working with Lego’s master builders in Denmark and Warner Bros executives in Los Angeles, as well as travelling around the world to record voices with actors including Galifianakis, Will Arnett (Batman), Rosario Dawson (Barbara Gordon) and Michael Cera (Robin).

It was critical in designing the Batmobile and other vehicles, characters and sets for the film that Lego’s master builders were involved.

Often, master builders flew to Sydney. It meant every hour of the day someone around the world was working on the film.

“It was great because we had this 24-hour working period where they are building something in Denmark, we are looking at in in LA and someone is building it in Sydney,” producer Dan Lin said.

“We had people editing in LA and people editing in Sydney.

“We had to keep the movie moving around the clock to meet the deadlines.”

Voices were recorded all over the world.

“One point Will was doing press for a movie in Sydney so we recorded him in Sydney,” McKay said.

“Zach was in Canada at one point so we went there.

“Rosario was doing Daredevil in New York and Michael Cera lives in New York so we recorded there. We would also do things on Skype.”

Arnett has a naturally gravelly voice but for Batman he roughens it up further, which left him hoarse after four-hour recording sessions where he would have to growl and shout lines.

“It is harder than coal mining – print that!” Arnett joked.

The Lego Batman Movie opens in Australia on Thursday (March 30).


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