After The Lego Movie became both a box office smash and a critical darling its lack of an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature was treated as a massive shock and changed the way Hollywood looked at licensed products as film properties. This is made evident with such previously unthinkable prospects as a movie based on Play-Doh and The Emoji Movie are currently slated for feature development and mobile phone game Angry Birds will release its first feature film this month.
Now, news comes of yet another popular plaything getting a movie adaptation; with Open Road Films picking up the rights to an animated feature based on Playmobil.
Created in 1973 by German cabinetmaker and inventor Hans Beck for toy company Brandstätter, the Playmobil line largely consists of simplified plastic toys designed in the fashion of various historical time periods and aimed at children under 12. Though primarily popular throughout Europe, the brand has a strong following in the United States and Latin America as well; where an adult collector-culture centered on stop-motion filmmaking has emerged in the era of internet video-sharing.
According to The Wrap, Playmobil (the animated movie) will serves as the directorial debut for Lino DiSalvo, the head of animation on Disney's animated smash hit Frozen, as well as a supervising animator on Disney animated features such as Bolt and Tangled. Dimitri Rassam, Aton Soumache, and Alexis Vonarb - the team that produced the critically-acclaimed The Little Prince animated film - will also be producing Plamobil.
Like Lego, the Playmobil product line does not typically feature a storyline or characters for its figures, instead producing themed sets based on general aesthetics, which can be swapped out and interchanged with relative ease. Originally planned to be launched in the United States through a tie-in with McDonald's Happy Meal promotion in 1982, it was scrapped over concerns about choking hazards and instead launched directly to stores under the Mattel banner.
The line is notable for maintaining a strict adherence to child-friendly themes and almost entirely original designs, eschewing Lego's recent fondness for movie and TV tie-ins aimed at older collectors. Proposals for sets featuring themes deemed too scary or violent are routinely rejected, though a thriving industry of bootleg versions produced largely in China and Latin America worldwide often focuses on precisely those concepts. The official sets are often produced in limited quantities compared to similar product lines, which has given added cache to the brand on the international collector market.
At this time, no indication has been made as to what the premise of the feature might be. Two direct-to-DVD animated features have been produced, along with a short-lived TV series that aired mainly in Europe. There have also been several video games based on the toys, mainly for handheld consoles. A series of Playmobil-themed Fun Parks also operate in Greece, Malta, France, Germany, and Florida; often as part of the grounds at Playmobil product-manufacturing facilities.
Playmobil is set to open in U.S. theaters on January 18th, 2019.
Source: The Wrap