Why did ‘Playmobil’ have the 2nd worst Box Office opening in U.S. history?:

In a weekend that saw ‘Frozen 2’ cross the $900m mark globally, and ‘Knives Out’ gross $100m, it was STX animation ‘Playmobil’ that grabbed all the headlines – for the wrong reasons. Its $656k opening stands as one of the worst for a wide opening in U.S. history, while ‘Dark Waters$4m hardly made a splash in a cold December weekend before ’Jumanji’s heats up affairs next week.

How did the new releases get on?

There’s only one place to start, and that’s ‘Playmobil’s horrendous $656k opening – the 3rd worst for any film released in over 2,000 cinemas (4th if you count the ‘Saw’ re-release of 2014). It’s the 2nd worst opening this decade, and could result in the film missing out on reaching the $1m mark, a feat managed only once before (with 2008’s ‘Delgo’).

Like ‘Delgo’, ‘Playmobil’s an animated Christmas release targeting an already-spoilt family audience, yet when you look under the bonnet of this broken-down vehicle, you realise that there’s been more than just a few dodgy toys on the assembly line – the entire factory’s faulty.

Originally handled in the US by the now-defunct ‘Open Road Films’, STX took over the distribution in April after a delay to its release date. Three further delays followed, with STX deciding to dump the film after its Annecy festival premiere led to an audience walkout. It’s chosen release date? The low-grossing post-Thanksgiving window, bookended by a ‘Frozen 2’/‘Jumanji’ Christmas sandwich, with a helping of just a $3m spend on promo (limited to only trailers at cinemas).

And yes, the film is that bad. Its B+ on Cinemascore puts it lightly; its 19% on Rotten Tomatoes definitely doesn’t. Even with STX’s $5 ticket incentive, audiences were apparently put off by the film’s ‘lack of creativity’, and felt the film was a 100-minute advertisement. At least the Christmas release came in useful, then.

What’s perhaps one of the biggest factors in the film’s demise is that, apart from attempting to go toe-to-toe with ‘Frozen 2’, the Playmobil brand itself just doesn’t appeal the way LEGO does. While ‘The LEGO Movie’s $69m opening was unprecedented, the lingering feeling remains that ‘Playmobil’ was only greenlit because of this success, and German toy company was always going to pale in comparison. Its non-existent overseas total of $12.5m only further confirms the IP’s irrelevance across the globe, meaning ‘Playmobil’ was destined for failure from the start.

Legal thriller ‘Dark Waters’ saw an expansion into 2,000 cinemas this weekend from 94, but couldn’t find similar growth in receipts, earning just $4m for a 6th place finish, after grossing $850k last week. Unlike ‘Playmobil’ however, ‘Dark Waters’ boasts glowing reviews from critics and audiences, but was wounded by a lack of festival premiere – key for earnings when opening in the awards season.

How did the others do?

After a record-breaking Thanksgiving last week, ‘Frozen 2’ was brought back down to earth with a 59% drop, earning $35.2m in the process. It’s no surprise: other Disney Thanksgiving releases like ‘Moana’ (50%) and ‘Wreck it Ralph 2’ (55%) saw similar falls, but neither benefited from ‘Frozen’s $338m running domestic total after just 3 weekends.

It means the film has now passed $900m worldwide, to become the 8th biggest film of the year worldwide (and 7th in the U.S.), after grossing another $90m overseas. It’s now under $400m away from overtaking ‘Frozen’s global earnings, and could seriously pose a threat to this summer’s  ‘The Lion King’ to become the biggest animated film of all time.

Murder-mystery ‘Knives Out’ added $14.2m to its domestic total, for an impressive $63.5m running cume. Now over the $100m mark worldwide, it marks another win for quality original film at the Box Office, alongside ‘Queen & Slim’, which now sits on $27m after a $6.5m weekend.

Other notables from the weekend

  • Frozen 2’s success this weekend propelled Disney to $10bn at the global Box Office – a feat never achieved by a studio.
  • By including Fox’s worldwide earnings, this total jumps to $11.9bn.
  • Playmobil’s per-cinema average of $280 is the 13th worst in U.S. history.
Rank Last Week Rank Film STUDIO Total U.S. Gross Weekend Gross Weekend drop JUMPCUT’s prediction Week number
1 1 Frozen 2 Disney $338.1m $35.2m -59.1% $59.3m 3
2 2 Knives Out Lionsgate $65.6m $14.2m -46.9% $15.5m 2
3 3 Ford v Ferrari Fox-Disney $91.2m $6.7m -49.5% $7.1m 4
4 4 Queen & Slim Universal $27.1m $6.6m -44.1% $7.8m 2
5 5 A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Sony $43.1m $5.2m -55.8% $8.5m 3
6 19 Dark Waters Focus Features $5.2m $4m +543.5% 3
7 6 21 Bridges STX Entertainment $23.9m $2.9m -48.7% $2.8m 3
8 7 Playing with Fire Paramount $42m $2m -51.8% $2.9m 5
9 8 Midway Lionsgate $53.4m $1.9m -50.7% $2.4m 5
10 9 Last Christmas Universal $35.5m $1m -49.4% $1.4m 5