Playmobil: The Movie
- Directed By: Lino DiSalvo
- Written By: Blaise Hemingway, Greg Erb, Jason Oremland
- Release Date: December 6, 2019
- Domestic Distributor: STX Entertainment
- Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Daniel Radcliffe, Kenan Thompson
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $72 million (€63M)||Financed by: Mediawan|
|Domestic Gross: Still in release||Overseas Gross: Still in release|
Playmobil: The Movie was first announced as a soon-to-be big budget animated project at the 2014 American Film Market, after On Entertainment heads Dimitri Rassam and Aton Soumache, acquired the film rights to the Playmobil toys. The German toy maker was a competitor to Lego and after the success of The Lego Movie (2014), the Playmobil toys were primed to be exploited.
On Entertainment’s animation division, ON Animation Studios handled the project and launched pre-sales at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival. They presented global distributors with a short story presentation and landed major European distributors and Cross Creek came on board for US distribution. Wild Bunch and Pathé continued sales at the 2016 Berlin Film Festival marketplace. In mid 2016, Lionsgate boarded the project to help Wild Bunch with international sales. For reasons that have not been made public, Cross Creek was no longer the stateside distributor and in May 2016 Open Road acquired US rights.
Days after the Open Road deal was signed, The Weinstein Company sued, claiming they were contractually the US distributor and were in turn counter-sued. A deal was never actually inked because of liquidity problems with TWC and the producers quickly landed the Open Road arrangement. The stateside release was then set for January 18, 2019. Open Road then entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2018 and were sold off and Playmobil: The Movie was sent back onto the market. In April 2019, STX picked up the film as a service agreement, where they would only have exposure to the P&A expenses.
As for the financing of the movie — On Animation financed upfront costs, but nearly the entire budget was eventually funded from pre-sales. In June 2018, the French conglomerate Mediawan acquired On Entertainment and had issued financial statements about the movie. The budget for Playmobil: The Movie was €63 million ($72 million USD). You can verify that figure on the 4th page of the Mediawan investor report about that acquisition. Mediawan also reported delivery sales of €32.4 million in the second half of 2019 — which was the remaining amount global distributors had to pay Mediawan for the pre-sales. Normally there would be an initial deposit for the pre-sales, which would be followed by one or more delivery payments — which when all combined, nearly covered the €63M in expenses on this fiasco.
This French back production was first released in August in France where it tanked with $2.6M. The famous German toys had little support from German auds, where it flopped with just $1.7M. Most major international markets have released the pic already and the current numbers are at a dreadful $12.4M across many distributors that overpaid for Playmobil. A few markets are set to open throughout 2020, but it remains to be seen if they will opt for a theatrical run or dump it straight to video/streaming. More if any numbers come in…
STX dated Playmobil for August 30 but pushed it back to the slow post-Thanksgiving frame on December 6. With the Lego series already out of steam from too many sequels and TV spin offs, this knockoff was tracking for a sub $5 million opening. STX kept their marketing to a minimum, spending less than $10M on ads and distribution expenses. The movie was contractually required to be booked into wide release and STX secured 2,337 theaters.
Playmobil: The Movie was not screened for critics and the few reviews that eventually posted were awful. It was the only wide opener over this normally sleepy box office weekend and opened with an embarrassing $656,530 — placing #14 for the weekend led by the holdover Frozen II. Playmobil’s opening was the 3rd worst ever (for a first-run feature) for a movie playing in over 2,000 locations after the kids pics Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure and Delgo. More as this run continues…