The creators of “The Lego Movie,” shut out from Sunday night’s Academy Awards, turned the snub to their advantage with a publicity stunt that garnered tons of attention anyway.
While the Warner Bros. movie didn’t win any Oscars, the producers handed out trophies made of plastic bricks from toymaker Lego A/S during a performance of the Oscar-nominated song. Oprah Winfrey, Steve Carell and Emma Stone held the yellow Lego Oscar statuettes. #LegoOscar was a No. 1 trending topic on Twitter.com in the U.S., and a video of artist Nathan Sawaya assembling the trophies was getting hits on Youtube.com.
The stunt amounted to millions of dollars of free publicity for the Danish toymaker’s signature product -- this year’s version of the Oscar selfie that host Ellen DeGeneres took with a Samsung phone in 2014. Lego supplied props for the musical number, including a toy saxophone made of the bricks, said Michael McNally, a brand relations director for the company. He said he was still tallying the social-media hits.
“There’s one word to describe it and it’s priceless,” McNally said.
Using the statuette was the inspiration of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, creators of the “The Lego Movie.” When the Warner Bros. film was passed over for a best animated picture nomination in January, Lord posted on Twitter a photo of a Lego Oscar the artist created more than a decade ago. Lord and Miller contacted Sawaya about making copies for the show.
Sawaya made 20 Lego trophies, each consisting of 500 bricks. He said he’s already received hundreds of e-mail requests to make Lego Oscars for fans. He e-mailed the Lego company last night suggesting they offer a kit for sale.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Sawaya said by phone. “I just do these in my studio for fun.”
“Everything Is Awesome,” the theme from “The Lego Movie,” was nominated for best original song. It lost to “Glory,” from the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic “Selma.”
Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris took advantage of the film’s animated feature snub to crack a joke.
“If you are at an Oscar party with the guys who made ‘The Lego Movie,’ now would be a good time to start distracting them,” he said when introducing the category.
Warner Bros., part of Time Warner Inc., still got attention for the franchise that now has two sequels on tap, “The Lego Movie 2” and “The Lego Batman Movie,” according to Imdb.com.
Sawaya, who works independently of the Lego company and still has to buy his bricks, said he’s delighted his design has become an Internet sensation. He points to a photo on Facebook.com of Bradley Cooper, Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep holding the Lego Oscars at an after party.
“There was a lot going on during the show,” Sawaya said. “This was a light moment that people really picked up on. Everyone can connect with Legos.”