Sonic Shows Its Teeth

Sonic the Hedgehog MM

Amazing what a makeover can do, isn’t it?

Last April, it looked as if the fastest hedgehog in entertainment was headed straight for a brick wall. When Paramount Pictures dropped its first trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog, a movie inspired by Sega’s endearing video game character, the reaction was universal: “AAAAAGH!” The eyes were weird. The face was creepy. And those horrible, horrible teeth!

Paramount, hearing the screams of anguish and terror, pushed the film’s release date back and completely revamped the look of the character. The result? Oh, just the biggest opening for a video game film adaptation ever.

Sonic the Hedgehog earned an estimated $57 million in North America over the traditional three-day weekend, with President’s Day still to go. If the movie continues to draw fans as predicted, Sonic could finish the extended holiday weekend with $68 million—which would make it the fourth largest President’s Day weekend opening ever. Clearly, Sonic is spinning in the right direction.

Birds of Prey—or, as it’s apparently been retitled by most theater chains, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey—dropped to second place with $17.1 million. The movie has now earned about $59.3 million, less than half of what Harley Quinn’s first film, Suicide Squad, collected in its first week.

Two newcomers, Fantasy Island and The Photograph, are locked in a photo finish for third place as of press time. Fantasy Island, a horror flick based on a cheesy 1980s television show, has a narrow lead according to the early estimates, banking $12.4 million to The Photograph’s $12.3 million. But no matter: If the makers of Fantasy Island had traveled to the wish-granting resort themselves, they surely could’ve come up with a better fantasy than this. De pain! De pain!

(Still, both of those newcomers finished better than fellow freshman flick Downhill—a title that proved prophetic. The black comedy tumbled down the box-office mountain and came to a stop in 10th place, earning just $4.7 million.)

Bad Boys for Life closed out the top five with an $11.3-million weekend, pushing its total gross to $181.3 million.

In the wake of last weekend’s Academy Awards broadcast, only one film saw an appreciable bump: Parasite, Oscar’s biggest winner. The South Korean film increased its box-office draw by a whopping 234%, earning $5.5 million in North America. Its total gross now stands at $43.2 million.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous 3 months ago
The only movie I saw this weekend was Zombies 2 and boy was it a letdown after the excellent Zombies 1. The Romeo and Juliet like storyline seemed to have gone away, the songs were completely tuneless and unimaginative, and the werewolf storyline really should have been left on the cutting room floor. The original had humor, heart, cool catchy songs, and characters you actually cared about. This movie maybe had a sliver here and there of what made the original so wonderful, but mainly it was a big boring tuneless mess that annoyed me more than anything.
Rocketshipper 3 months ago
I’m torn about sonic.  On the one hand I think it sets a bad precedent for studios to give in to listening to whiny fans like that.  In this case it seems to have improved things, but fans complain about EVERYTHING and maybe the next time they throw a tantrum a movie might get changed for the worse (I am still miffed about what happened to the first TMNT reboot movie.).  I am a big believer in letting the creators of the film have control and letting it play out.   

On the other hand though; the new sonic redesign was unquestionably 1000% better, and I think even contributed to making the film work better than I think it would have.   Sonic in this film is one of the most adorable CGI characters ever; and his enthusiasm and child like wonder and expressions just wouldn’t be as heart tugging and effective without those big eyes and his classic look. What really boggles my mind is how paramount didn’t just go with this from the beginning.    What person really thought that the original design was needed or preferable to a more game accurate look?   

Anyway, I hope it does well enough for a sequel.   I’m looking forward to what they could do in future movies (chaos emeralds and super sonic please!)
Anonymous 3 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy 

I see where you’re coming from with your first point; I’m still bummed out that Zack Snyder won’t get to finish his Superman arc. But I do think that the fans in Sonic’s case were offering constructive criticism, and the fact that the director took it to heart made the fans happy and actually want to see the film (something Lucasfilm could learn from).

It’s hard to gauge whether fans help or hinder Hollywood, but in Sonic’s case, I’d say it definitely helped.
Edna Konrad 3 months ago
Here's the thing though, the studio didn't "give in to whiny fans". They listened to a criticism, realized that criticism was RIGHT, and then corrected the problem. That's a good thing to do.
Rocketshipper 3 months ago

I absolutely think that some of the fans were whiny; some of the reactions to the original trailer were way over the top, with anger and vitriol that was disproportionate to the actual situation.  But it's really the principal of the thing, letting the people making the movie have the control instead of trying to make movies based on fan feedback.   Sometimes fans are wrong, sometimes listening to fans would result in a worse movie.   TMNT is my go-to example of that; originally William Fichtner's character was going to be Shredder, but fan reaction was that "Shredder has to be a Japanese guy" so like half the movie was reshot so that Shredder became a different character than Fichtner's.  But it ultimately hurt the movie badly; even in the final cut Fichtner's character is still the main villain, and he is the character responsible for the death of April's father and the mutation of the ninja turtles.  He is the character that the heroes have the most emotional rivalry with, and need to fight.   Shredder, in the final cut, is just a random ninja gangster in a robot suit, with no development and no personal connection to the heroes.  the change also created a few plot holes (Fichtner's character leaves the secret lab in a helicopter to go back to New York, and Shredder leaves after him, and yet somehow Shredder gets back to New York first.)   And it happened because they listened to fans who complained about the film being inaccurate to the source material.

Or like some of the blowback over Iron Man 3;  I know people who absolutely hate Iron Man 3 for changing The Mandarin compared to the source comics.  I do not know if the movie would have been better or worse with a more comic accurate Mandarin character, but I do think that Marvel should be free to make the movies the way they like according to their vision and ideas. 

Seems like fans complain most of the time because something is different from the comic source material or different from what they expect, but being different is not always bad.   And being "accurate to the source material" does not automatically make a movie adaption good.   Sometimes I think that fans should try more to be happy with what we get, instead of often insisting that things have to be a specific way to be good. 

The Mouse Of Non 3 months ago
Anyone remember this?

Almost a year ago. Hard to believe. Sad that people stopped commenting. . .
Anonymous 3 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Sonic reaping the benefits of the box office and Birds of Prey not doing the same shows that respecting the fans and making them happy will go a long way in earning their support and money. Warner Bros and Margot Robbie gave us a Birds of Prey movie (which is really a Harley Quinn movie) that didn't have Batgirl, made Black Canary and Huntress unrecognizable, and completely butchered Cassandra Cain, and is one of the biggest reasons the movie is under performing. Paramount and Jeff Fowler on the other hand delayed the film because nobody liked the initial design, and as a result have earned both love from the fans as well as their money.

I saw the Sonic movie and as a Sonic fan, I absolutely LOVED IT! Aside from a bit of a slow start in the first act and a couple scenes where Sonic floss-dance, I loved the film and had a big grin throughout the second half! A straight up fun time at the theaters and well worth the price of admission!

So anyways, congratulations Paramount! You've desperately needed a new franchise these past few years, and you now have one! When you guys make the sequel (and judging by these box office numbers and those midcredit scenes, you probably will), I will be there opening day, just like I was for this film!
The Mouse Of Non 3 months ago
I agree with you entirely!! I want to see the new Sonic movie, especially since Jean-Ralphio himself is Sonic! Glad he found another career after faking his death.