How digital remix and fan culture helped the Lego comeback

  • Sophie Gwendolyn Einwächter Philipps-Universität Marburg
  • Felix M. Simon University of Oxford
Keywords: Analog culture, Digital culture, Fandom, Film industry, German fan culture, Hollywood, Lego franchise, Media franchise, Toy industry


The LEGO Movie, the highest-grossing animation film of 2014, surprised and impressed children, adults, and critics worldwide. The film's transfranchisal approach and its clever merchandising helped the Lego Group become the world's biggest toymaker in the following year. In order to provide context for understanding the Lego comeback, we first address the corporate history of the Lego Group and how its product range has developed over the years. Next, we take a closer look at adult fans of Lego (AFOL), in particular a German fan club that considers Lego building to be a form of art. The final part of our paper deals with brickfilming as a cultural practice bringing together fans, the brand, Lego-building, and filmmaking. Taking The LEGO Movie and the overwhelmingly positive response to it as a starting point for cultural analysis helps to deepen our understanding of contemporary media production and resulting (trans)formations of fan phenomena. Furthermore, investigating Lego allows us to tackle some of the key rules and mechanisms underlying cultural participation and creativity today. Ultimately, the difficult past and current success of the Lego brick may attest to the often challenged yet sometimes reaffirmed status of tangible objects in a now predominantly digitally mediated era.

Author Biography

Sophie Gwendolyn Einwächter, Philipps-Universität Marburg
Dr. Sophie Einwächter is a film and media studies scholar working on fan culture, online communities, social media, film analysis and media theory. She wrote her PhD-thesis ("Transformationen von Fankultur. Organisatorische und ökonomische Konsequenzen globaler Vernetzung", CC-licensed, published online 2014) about the importance of fan culture within a cultural and creative industries context. She taught at the universities of Bochum, Frankfurt, and Mannheim, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the department of Media Studies at Philipps University Marburg, where she teaches three courses on social media, media theory, and . Sophie has been working for the European Network for Cinema and Media Studies and has been a member of its Steering Committee since 2012.