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The Emoji Movie is a 2017 American computer animated film directed by Tony Leondis, and written by Leondis, Eric Siegel and Mike White, based on emoji graphics used in electronic messages. It stars the voices of T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Rob Riggle, Jennifer Coolidge, Christina Aguilera, Sofía Vergara, Sean Hayes and Patrick Stewart. The film centers on Gene, a multi-expressional emoji who lives in a teenager's smartphone and sets out on a journey to become a normal meh emoji like his parents.
Produced by Sony Pictures Animation and distributed by Columbia Pictures, The Emoji Movie premiered on July 23, 2017, at the Regency Village Theatre and was theatrically released in the United States on July 28, 2017. The film grossed $217 million worldwide, making it Leondis' highest-grossing film as of 2018, but received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics. At the 38th Golden Raspberry Awards, it won in four categories: Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screen Combo and Worst Screenplay, making it the first animated film to receive nominations and wins in those categories at the awards.
Gene is an emoji that lives in Textopolis, a digital city inside the phone of his user Alex. He is the son of two meh emojis named Mel and Mary, and is able to make multiple expressions despite his parents' upbringing. His parents are hesitant of him going to work, but Gene insists so that he can feel useful. Upon receiving a text from his crush Addie, Alex decides to send her an emoji. When Gene is selected, he panics, makes a panicked expression, and wrecks the text center. Gene is called in by Smiler, a smiley emoji and leader of the text center, who concludes that Gene is a "malfunction" and therefore must be deleted. Gene is chased by bots, but is rescued by Hi-5, a once popular emoji who has since lost his fame due to lack of use. He tells Gene that he can be fixed if they find a hacker, and Hi-5 accompanies him so that he can reclaim his fame.
Smiler sends more bots to look for Gene when she finds out that he has left Textopolis, as his actions have caused Alex to think that his phone needs to be fixed. Gene and Hi-5 come to a piracy app where they meet a hacker emoji named Jailbreak, who wants to reach Dropbox so that she can live in the cloud. The trio is attacked by Smiler's bots, but manage to escape into the game Candy Crush. Jailbreak reveals that Gene can be fixed in the cloud, and the group goes off into the Just Dance app. While there, Jailbreak is revealed to be a princess emoji who fled home after tiring of being stereotyped. They are once again attacked by bots, and their actions cause Alex to delete the Just Dance app. Gene and Jailbreak escape, but Hi-5 is taken along with the app and ends up in the trash.
Mel and Mary go searching for Gene and have a very lethargic argument. They make up in the Instagram app when Mel reveals that he, too, is a malfunction, explaining Gene's behavior. While traveling through Spotify, Jailbreak admits that she likes Gene just the way he is, and that he should not be ashamed of his malfunction. They make it to the trash and rescue Hi-5, but are soon attacked by a bot upgraded with illegal malware. They evade it by entangling it's arms and enter Dropbox, where they encounter a firewall. After many tries, the gang get past it with a password being Addie's name and make it to the cloud, where Jailbreak prepares to reprogram Gene. Gene admits his feelings for Jailbreak, but she wishes to stick to her plan of venturing into the cloud, unintentionally causing Gene to revert to his apathetic programming out of heartbreak. The upgraded bot takes Gene, and Hi-5 and Jailbreak race after them on a Twitter bird summoned by Jailbreak in her princess form.
As Smiler prepares to delete Gene, Mel and Mary arrive. Mel reveals to everyone that he is also a malfunction, prompting Smiler to threaten deleting him as well. Jailbreak and Hi-5 arrive and disable the bot, which falls on top of Smiler. Alex has since taken his phone to the store and asks to have his phone erased to fix the problem. Out of desperation, Gene prepares to have himself texted to Addie, making numerous faces to express himself. Realizing that Addie received a text from him, Alex stops his phone from getting erased, saving the emoji and finally getting to speak with Addie, who likes the emoji Alex sent. Gene accepts himself for who he is and is celebrated by all of the emojis.
In a mid-credits scene, Smiler has been relegated to the "loser lounge" with the other unused and forgotten emojis for her crimes, wearing numerous braces due to her teeth being cracked by the bot, and playing and losing a game of Go Fish.
- T.J. Miller as Gene Meh, an outsider "meh" emoji who can show multiple expressions
- James Corden as Hi-5, a hand emoji representing a high five signal
- Anna Faris as Jailbreak, a hacker emoji who is later revealed to be a princess emoji named Linda
- Maya Rudolph as Smiler, a smiley emoji. As the original emoji, she is the systems supervisor of the text center.
- Steven Wright as Mel Meh, Gene's emoji father who is later revealed to have the same condition as his son
- Jennifer Coolidge as Mary Meh, Gene's emoji mother
- Patrick Stewart as Poop, a poop emoji
- Christina Aguilera as Akiko Glitter, a "super cool" dancer that lives inside the Just Dance app
- Sofía Vergara as Flamenca, a flamenco dancer emoji
- Sean Hayes as Steven, a devil emoji
- Rachael Ray as Spam, a spam message
- Jeff Ross as an Internet troll
- Jake T. Austin as Alex, a human teenager who owns the phone where Gene and his emoji friends live
- Tati Gabrielle as Addie McCallister, Alex's crush
- Rob Riggle as an ice cream emoji
- Conrad Vernon as an Trojan Horse
- Carlos Alazraqui
- Keith Anthony
- Eric Bauza
- Bob Bergen
- Dave Boat
- John Cramer
- EG Daily
- Debi Derryberry
- Terri Douglas
- Keith Ferguson
- Jess Harnell
- Amy Hill
- Gordon James
- John Kassir
- Josh Keaton
- Phil LaMarr
- Mona Marshall
- Scott Menville
- Max Mittelman
- Laraine Newman
- Alicyn Packard
- Paul Pape
- Tara Strong
- Fred Tatasciore
- Jessika Van
- Diamond White
- Debra Wilson
- Matthew Wood
The film was inspired by director Tony Leondis' love of Toy Story. Wanting to make a new take on the concept, he began asking himself, "What is the new toy out there that hasn't been explored?" At the same time, Leondis received a text message with an emoji, which helped him realize that this was the world he wanted to explore. In fleshing out the story, Leondis considered having the emojis visit the real world. However, his producer felt that the world inside a phone was much more interesting, which inspired Leondis to create the story of where and how the emojis lived. As Leondis is gay, he connected to Gene's plight of "being different in a world that expects you to be one thing," and in eventually realizing that the feeling held true for most people, Leondis has said the film "was very personal".
In July 2015, it was announced that Sony Pictures Animation had won the bidding war against Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures over production rights to make the film, with the official announcement occurring at the 2016 CinemaCon. The film was fast tracked into production by the studio after the bidding war. Unlike most other animated films, the film had a production time of 2 years, as there were concerns that the movie would become outdated due to the evolution of phone technology.
On World Emoji Day on July 17, 2016, Miller was announced as the lead. Leondis created the part with Miller in mind, although the actor was initially hesitant to play the role, only accepting after Leondis briefed him on the story. Leondis chose Miller because "when you think of irrepressible, you think of TJ. But he also has this surprising ability to break your heart". in addition Miller also contributed some re-writes. In October 2016, it was announced that Ilana Glazer and Corden would join the cast as well. Glazer was later replaced by Anna Faris. According to Jordan Peele, he was initially offered the role of "Poop", which he would go on to state led to his decision to retire from acting. The part would ultimately go to Patrick Stewart.
The film's score was composed by Patrick Doyle, who previously composed the score for Leondis' 2008 film Igor. Singer Ricky Reed recorded an original song, "Good Vibrations", for the film.
In November 2015, Sony scheduled the film to be released on August 11, 2017. A year later, it was moved to August 4, 2017, with Baby Driver initially taking its previous date. In late March 2017, the film was moved one week earlier, to July 28, 2017, switching places with Sony Pictures' The Dark Tower.
The film's theatrical release is preceded by Puppy!, a Hotel Transylvania short directed by Genndy Tartakovsky.
On December 20, 2016, a teaser trailer for the film was released, which received criticism from social media users, collecting almost 22,000 "dislikes" against 4,000 "likes" within 24 hours of its release. A second trailer was later released on May 16, 2017. Sony promoted the release of the latter trailer by hosting a press conference in Cannes, the day before the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, which featured T. J. Miller parasailing in. Variety called the event "slightly awkward", and The Hollywood Reporter described it as "promotional ridiculousness".
Sony Pictures was later criticized after the film's official Twitter account posted a promotional picture of a parody of The Handmaid's Tale, featuring Smiler. The parody was considered to be "tasteless" due to the overall themes of the work, and the image was deleted afterward.
Video game Edit
The film's release was also preceded by a tie-in mobile game, titled POP FRENZY! The Emoji Movie Game, a free-to-play bubble shooter game that was released on iOS and Android, with optional in app purchases.
The Emoji Movie was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 24, 2017, by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
The Emoji Movie has grossed $86.1 million in the United States and Canada and $131.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $217.8 million, against a production budget of $50 million.
The Emoji Movie was released alongside Atomic Blonde, and was projected to gross around $20 million from 4,075 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $900,000 from Thursday night previews and $10.1 million on its first day. It went on to debut to $24.5 million, finishing second at the box office behind Dunkirk. It held the record for the worst opening for a film in over 4,000 theaters, until it was surpassed two weeks later by The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, which had an opening of $8.3 million from 4,003 theaters. In the film's second weekend, it dropped by nearly 50%, grossing $12.4 million and finishing in 3rd (behind The Dark Tower and Dunkirk).
Review embargoes for the film were lifted midday July 27, only a few hours before the film premiered to the general public, in a move considered among one of several tactics studios are using to try to curb bad Rotten Tomatoes ratings. Speaking of the effect embargoing reviews until last minute had on the film's debut, Josh Greenstein, Sony Pictures president of worldwide marketing and distribution, said, "The Emoji Movie was built for people under 18 ... so we wanted to give the movie its best chance. What other wide release with a score under 8 percent has opened north of $20 million? I don't think there is one."
Critics panned The Emoji Movie, calling it "unfunny and a waste of time". Several major outlets called The Emoji Movie one of the worst movies of 2017. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 8% based on 117 reviews, with an average rating of 2.7/10. The site's critical consensus displayed a no symbol emoji ("🚫") in place of text. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 12 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
- Main article: Addie (film)
A spin-off feature film titled Addie, featuring Addie McCallister as the main character, was released on March 1, 2019. It was directed by Geo G. and written by Geo, Mike Reiss, Seth Grahame-Smith, Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen. Tati Gabrielle reprised her role as Addie from The Emoji Movie, joined by Josh Peck, Steve Zahn, Katherine Heigl, Bobby Cannavale, Minnie Driver, and Stanley Tucci. The film remains, according to Geo, a separate continuity to The Emoji Movie. Unlike its predecessor, Addie was well-received by critics.
A sequel, Addie 2, is scheduled to be released on March 4, 2022.