As yet another Disney animated film inched closer to a $1 billion box office total this weekend, a very different story for another animated movie lay at the other end of the chart. Playmobil: The Movie, which opened Friday in the U.S., earned just $656,530 domestically — one of the worst opening weekend totals ever for a wide release.
Playmobil — distributed, though not financed, by studio STX Entertainment — opened in 2,337 North American theaters, making its domestic debut the third-lowest in history for a film playing in more than 2,000 locations (not counting a 10th-anniversary re-release of Saw). Only 2012’s The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure and 2008’s Delgo performed worse.
“For STXfilms, Playmobil was a no-risk distribution deal that allowed the studio to collaborate with key exhibition partners to offer a holiday movie for kids and families,” the studio said in a statement. STX only acquired distribution rights to the film after Open Road Films, its planned U.S. distributor, declared bankruptcy, and pushed its release date back multiple times. The studio also allowed theaters to offer special ticket pricing for the film, at just $5.
Based on a European toy line, Playmobil tells the tale of secret agent Rex Dasher (Daniel Radcliffe), who partners up with a food truck driver (Jim Gaffigan) and a savvy civilian (Anya Taylor-Joy) to rescue citizens who have vanished into thin air. Despite a starry cast that also included Kenan Thompson, Adam Lambert, and Meghan Trainor, Playmobil failed to generate much interest in the U.S. or elsewhere, earning just $12.5 million internationally, on a reported $75 million budget. Perhaps as a result of this performance (the film opened in other territories ahead of its U.S. release) STX spent relatively little on marketing, approximately $3 million. The film was also a flop with critics, earning a 19 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with several reviews, inevitably and unfavorably, comparing it to The Lego Movie.