Because Sony didn't want other animation studios to create their own take on emojis ahead of themnote As if this was some groundbreaking idea that people were just clamoring to see realized in a cinematic format, the film was produced in a span of just two years, which is a rather short amount of time as far as animated films from major studios go.
Creator Killer: Tony Leondis' career was irreparably damaged by the movie's universal thrashing, with no other planned projects in the pipeline since its release. A film he had been planning at DreamWorks Animation, B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations, remains indefinitely shelved (though DWA's sale to NBCUniversal and eventual regime change didn't help matters, either).
Many saw similarities to this film and The LEGO Movie, which some argue is the reason the movie was conceived in the first place. However, others argue that it has more in common with Inside Out or Wreck-It Ralph.
According to director Tony Leondis, the film actually took inspiration from Toy Story, claiming that he wanted to create a movie based on Toy Story's concept with something that hasn't been done yet (in this case, emojis).
International Coproduction: Not the movie itself, but the Latin American Spanish dub, albeit with a very odd twist: Besides including Mexican voice actors (Startalents included), the dub also feature celebrity voice actors from countries with no voice acting industry to speak of (with the sole exception of Argentina), in this case they are from Mexico, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Panama and Guatemala.
An embargo was placed on any sort of reviews for the movie until release day. It's widely speculated that this was because of... pretty much everything about the movie garnering an almost unanimously-negative reception from the get-go. Sure enough, upon release the film got a 8% Tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes,note and initially, it was a 0% and an average rating of 2.7/10.
"Critics Consensus: 🚫"
It was later revealed that they had done so to prevent Rotten Tomatoes from ruining their chances to make a profit, which didn't work out very well as the film was only barely profitable.
For bonus points, Sony actually denied critics test screenings of the movie, just to be absolutely sure there were no bad reviews staving off profits on the opening weekend. Unfortunately for them, many theaters saw this as the writing on the wall, and released the film early anyway to try and recoup some of the money before the bad reviews caught up. The end result was that critics got to watch and review the movie early anyway.
A rare example of this occurring before the film even comes out. Basically, a click-bait post on Tumblr (whose "source" leads to this video) announced that the movie was canceled due to negative feedback from the trailer. However, people legitimately actually thought the post was being serious and many were glad that the movie was cancelled, despite there being no official sources to back this claim up. It's extremely rare for this to happen (even those who fall under this are cancelled due to controversy rather than bad reception).
Shortly after the film's release, word spread that Sony announced they would be making a new "X movie" about memes. Which comes from a parodic image edit.
Release Date Change: Originally set for release on August 4, it was moved up to July 28. The UK gets it on the former date.
Inadvertent example with Jordan Peele. He was so insulted when Sony offered him the role of Poop that it inspired him to briefly retire from acting and focus on film directing.
Played straight with T.J. Miller, being his lowest rated movie. Not helping matters was that he was later accused of sexually assaulting a woman, which was revealed a few months after the film's release. Miller had twoother movies that were still in production at the time of his sexual harassment allegations were revealed.
While things generally went smoothly during production, it was extremely rushed, being produced in just two years in order to stop other animation studios from making their own movies featuring emojis. On top of that, Sony only greenlit the movie out of desperation: the studio was still struggling from the fallout of the 2014 hack, and since they had brokered a deal to share the film rights to Spider-Man, their most lucrative asset, with Marvel Studios that year, the studio was desperate to produce anything that could potentially attract audiences.
T.J. Miller, who voiced Gene, was reluctant to join production, and only did so when director Tony Leondis revealed the plot outline to him.
Word of God: The DVD commentary addresses several events not clearly spelled out in the film itself, such as Jailbreak being half-princess and half-hacker at the end and the Dropbox plug being a narrative device to explain why the robots couldn't access it.
Working Title: The film's original title was "Emojimovie: Express Yourself".
Michael Lynton, an executive at Sony, left the company before the film was released to focus all of his efforts at working for Snap Inc., the owner of Snapchat (which he was already involved with before becoming chairman). Since Snapchat is one of the apps featured in the film, it's likely that the use of Product Placement was very deliberate in this case.
The film became the first animated feature to be nominated for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture, Worst Screenplay, Worst Screen Combo (any two obnoxious emojis) and Worst Director, and the first to be nominated for a Razzie in general since the Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie ("Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel"), winning all four awards. Interestingly, none of the voice actors received any Razzie nominations.
It is also the second animated movie to win a Razzie ever, period, the first being Thumbelina (in the "Worst Song" category for "Marry the Mole").