The Playmobil movie “opened wide” this weekend. And swallowed a big shit sandwich. Disastrous doesn’t even begin to cover it.
You’re forgiven if you didn’t know about it since everyone involved tried their best to hide it from the public.
A widely-released animated movie (2000+ screens) for kids making less than 1 million on opening weekend (domestic) is unfathomable. No matter how godawful the film is. How many movies are really good?
The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature – an unwatchable mess of a movie, poorly marketed by an inept (now defunct) mini-studio made 28.4 million in its domestic run. Playmobil won’t even make it to 2.
But that’s not the real story.
The real story is that the people responsible still have jobs. Sure there’s plenty of blame to go around, and sure the movie stinks and was dumped in every possible way, and they spent about nine dollars promoting it. None of that absolves anyone here.
Multiple people got on board, knowing full well this had to be released theatrically and couldn’t be pawned off on the we-have-no-alogrithm-for-quality factory that is Netflix.
The German-based Playmobil toy brand may not have the Lego cache, but it’s something. They couldn’t have sold fewer tickets if they put a swastika on the poster.
And little boys even like the movie. Of course they do! Kids like almost anything geared towards them no matter how putrid it is. They’re kids! The lowest possible hanging movie-going audience fruit. Even before Disney became the studio equivalent of Godzilla they still cleaned up by cranking out crappy kid-friendly movies that made money.
The level of effort it takes to fail this big is staggering. The release date? The graveyard weekend after Thanksgiving weekend? In the immediate wake of Frozen 2? And to sell the date some schmuck exec had to tell filmmakers something like, “Boys are our strength and Frozen is more for girls – I mean, everyone, sure – but more for girls. We let them do their thing on Thanksgiving and then give the boys their turn the weekend after. It’s good counter-programming. And there’s no other new competition that weekend. And we wanna get a couple good weeks before Star Wars. And… please stop looking at me like that.”
Before that the same exec was in another meeting with his boss where they both agreed the movie was totally fucked and this was the best place to quietly dump it. And by the way don’t spend any money promoting it cause we won’t get it back.
The trailer is mostly quick cuts and action set to an energetic (though painfully monotonous) beat – yet somehow it couldn’t be more lifeless. Despite decent animation. Try to stay awake while you watch.
I didn’t see much else of the promotional campaign. And neither did anyone else. Poor Daniel Radcliffe. He deserved better. For the love of god can we please just give him another Harry Potter movie?? This is clearly a cry for help.
And while much of the spin pushed out will be how the 40 million production budget was split 100 ways, and STX (the distributor that got a look at the product and said “Hells yeah! We’re in!”) has minimal exposure – the truth is that it’s almost impossible to fail this spectacularly.
So who takes the blame?
Well, this is Hollywood. There will be lots of finger pointing, and very little accountability.
Why strive for better?