The Spool / Box Office Report
Box Office Report: “Playmobil” Has Worst Opening Weekend in Decades
Playmobil's misguided animated feature follows in the footsteps of Delgo, The Oogieloves and other ill-fated kid's flicks.
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Playmobil’s misguided animated feature follows in the footsteps of Delgo, The Oogieloves and other ill-fated kid’s flicks.

We all wanna talk about the disastrous opening box office weekend of Playmobil: The Movie, I know. But we’ve got to eat our steak before we get to our ice cream, so let’s first take a look at all the other releases that outgrossed the lone new wide release of the weekend.

Top of those releases was Frozen II, scoring its third consecutive number one spot atop the box office. It grossed $34.7 million this frame, a 59% drop from last weekend. The majority of releases have major post-Thanksgiving drops, and even if this was a slightly more severe weekend-to-weekend decline than past post-Thanksgiving holds for Disney Animation fare, nobody at Disney is complaining about a gargantuan $337.6 million 17-day domestic total.

Last weekend’s two new wide releases were actually the exception to the hefty post-Thanksgiving drop rule, with Knives Out only falling 47% to gross another $14.1 million for a fantastic ten-day total of $63.4 million. If Knives Out can just hold on decently over the next two weekends, it should be able to hold onto its screens through the bustling end-of-December rush. 

Meanwhile, Ford v. Ferrari fell 50% this weekend for a fourth-weekend gross of $6.5 million and a current domestic total of $91.1 million. Looks like this racecar movie is headed for a final domestic total just under or over $105 million. Queen & Slim had the smallest weekend-to-weekend decline in the top ten as it dropped 45% to add $6.5 million to a domestic run that now stands at $26.8 million. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood fell 56% this go-around for a third-weekend gross of $5.2 million for a $43.1 million domestic gross.

Expanding into wide release this weekend to mixed results was Dark Waters. The new Todd Haynes movie expanded into 2,012 locations but could only muster $4.1 million. There are lots of options for adult moviegoers in the marketplace and many of those competing titles tended to have both better buzz behind them and more entertaining premises compared to the grim storyline at the center of Dark Waters.

Is it time for Playmobil: The Movie yet? Well, not quite. First, we gotta look at another STX Films title, 21 Bridges, which dropped another 48% this weekend for a third-weekend sum of $2.88 million and a domestic gross of $23.9 million. Despite starring a leading man you can’t see, $2 million worth moviegoers turned up to see Playing with Fire in its fifth weekend of release, having now grossed $42 million domestically. Also in its fifth weekend this frame was Midway, which scored another $1.94 million victory for an OK $53.4 million domestic total.

Rounding out the top ten wasn’t the opening weekend of those Playmobil toys, but rather the tenth-weekend gross of Joker. That rascally supervillain is still playing in 956 locations and fell 47% from last weekend to add $1.04 million to its domestic haul that now stands at $332.1 million. 

That $1.04 million weekend gross puts Joker narrowly ahead of the fifth-weekend gross of Last Christmas, which amassed another $1.02 million for a $33.4 million domestic cume. In its sixth weekend of release, Harriet grossed $810,000 (a 56% drop from last weekend) for a great $40.8 million gross. Two months into its domestic run, Parasite kept on chugging as it fell a tiny 30% from last weekend for a ninth-weekend gross of $700,000, bringing its domestic gross to $19.3 million.

OK. Now we can talk about Playmobil: The Movie, which opened to a weekend gross of $670,000 from 2,337 locations for a per-theater average of $286. That’s the fourth-worst opening in history for a movie bowing in more than 2,000 locations, only The Oogieloves in the Great Balloon Adventure, Delgo and the 10th-anniversary re-release of Saw had worse opening weekends while playing in over 2,000 theaters. It’s never a good thing to have your box office draw comparisons to Oogieloves, but that’s what happens when you’re a movie with as fascinatingly botched of a release as Playmobil: The Movie.

Playmobil was clearly a LEGO Movie cash-grab, the Mac & Me to The LEGO Movie’s E.T. However, Playmobil couldn’t play the part of a cash-grab properly, as it arrived nearly six years after The LEGO Movie premiered. It’s a move as baffling as trying to introduce The Monkees a decade after The Beatles broke up. Playmobil took so long to put together that it managed to come out after The LEGO Movie’s own sequel flopped. 

If people didn’t turn out for more LEGO Movie, why would they turn out for a copycat? Add to that fatal flaw a nonexistent marketing campaign and domestic distributor STX Films dumping Playmobil in a post-Thanksgiving slot and perhaps Playmobil was always destined to have a historically dismal opening weekend.

Jojo Rabbit fell out of wide release this weekend (it’s playing 571 venues) and grossed another $562,000 for a $19.2 million domestic total. Honey Boy expanded into 460 locations and grossed just $452,439 for a per-theater average of $983 and a $2.1 million domestic gross. That’s still better than Waves, which expanded into more locations this weekend (570) but fared worse with $421,625 and a per-theater average of $739. Waves has now grossed only $1 million domestically. Also struggling in its theatrical expansion this weekend was No Safe Spaces, which grossed just $292,632 from 200 theaters for a per-theater average of $1,463 and a domestic gross of $749,933.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire bowed in two locations this weekend before it goes back into NEON’s vault for two months prior to its official February domestic release (yes, it’s an odd release strategy). It opened to $67,100 this weekend for a per-theater average of $33,600, a figure Deadline Hollywood reports is the third-best domestic opening weekend ever for a French title. The Aeronauts also dropped in 186 theaters this weekend, though Amazon isn’t reporting official grosses for it yet. I wonder if STX Films is wishing they could have just not reported box office grosses for Playmobil?