Despite being based on a popular toy line and boasting star powered voice cast, Playmobil: The Movie finally made its Stateside debut with a fizzling box-office reception. Opening in 2,337 theaters across North America this weekend, the picture managed to pull in just $668,000 — the third-lowest opening for a film playing in over 2,000 locations behind CG animated indie Delgo (2008, $511.9K) and edutainment series spinoff The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure (2012, $443.9K).
The $75 million picture was co-financed by Wild Bunch, Pathe, Dimitri Rassam and ON Animation.
Playmobil was released in North America by STX Entertainment (UglyDolls), which inherited the film from Open Road after it folded and has repeatedly pushed the regional premiere back after its lukewarm reception in Europe. While marketing costs were reportedly kept low at $3 million, STX is experimenting with variable ticket pricing as a way to attract audiences, with theater chains and venues selling admission for just $5.
“Both STX and exhibition believed [the variable pricing model] would not only provide grosses, but also incremental growth,” STX President of Domestic Distribution Kevin Grayson told Variety. “Since this is the first time this progressive strategy was put in play on a wide release opening weekend, there were always going to be some bumps along the way. That said, we have already learned from this experiment. And we will continue to learn more and will tweak it for the future so it can be the benefit to the industry that we know it can be.”
Playmobil: The Movie was directed by Disney animation veteran Lino DiSalvo, and based on the hugely popular line of German toys. The story follows a young woman named Marla (Anya Taylor-Joy) who embarks on a magical quest when her younger brother Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) disappears into the multi-dimensional world of Playmobil characters (voiced by the likes of Daniel Radclifffe, Jim Gaffigan, Meghan Trainor, Adam Lambert and Kenan Thompson).
The film had a $12.5 million international release in August, and is supposed to open in China, though no date has been set. A bleak critical reception has left Playmobil with an unfriendly 19% on Rotten Tomatoes.