SONIC: THE VIDEO GAME MOVIE CURSE HAS BEEN LIFTED

Sonic the Hedgehog scores the best ever box office opening weekend for a video game movie. For the longest time, this was a genre Hollywood struggled mightily with, as several adaptations of popular video game titles failed to take off and launch new film franchises for studios to develop. However, the trend reversed last year when Detective Pikachu became a well-received hit, grossing $433 million worldwide. While that film wasn’t as huge a draw some anticipated (namely due to the lingering presence of Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame), it still proved profitable and there is a sequel in development.
The success of Detective Pikachu gave some hope that Sonic the Hedgehog would be able to follow suit and be another fruitful video game adaptation. Distributor Paramount desperately needed Sonic to post healthy numbers, seeing that they’re coming off a stretch of several high-profile box office flops. At one point, it looked like Sonic was going to finish below Detective Pikachu in its opening frame, but instead the film exceeded expectations and set a new box office record.
According to Variety, Sonic the Hedgehog grossed $57 million domestically in its first three days, a haul slightly bigger than Detective Pikachu’s $54.3 million last summer. Sonic is on pace to earn $68 million domestically over the extended Presidents Day holiday weekend. It currently stands at $100 million worldwide, already surpassing its production budget at the box office.
A number of high-profile films in this early part of 2020 either flat-out bombed (Dolittle) or underperformed commercially (Birds of Prey), so Sonic’s debut is a nice development. Fueled by generally positive reviews that painted it as a fun family film and the smart decision to redesign the look of the title character, Sonic was able to overcome any negative buzz generated by that infamous first trailer and thrived at the multiplex. It wouldn’t be surprising if Paramount looked to fast-track a sequel in the near future, hoping to strike when the iron is hot. At long last, they appear to have another go-to series they can bank on. After a 2019 that saw massive failures like Terminator: Dark Fate and The Rhythm Section making the wrong kind of box office history a few weeks ago, the studio is very happy to look at the charts this weekend.
There’s a good chance Sonic the Hedgehog will have strong legs over the next few weeks. It’s the only family film on the market right now, giving it a monopoly over its target demographic until Pixar’s Onward arrives on the scene in March. Next weekend does see the release of PG-rated The Call of the Wild, but that’s hitting theaters with limited fan far and shouldn’t be much of a rival for Sonic. Perhaps the video game movie curse is finally over and studios have found the right way to crack the formula.

Author: Lawrence Lease

Lawrence Lease is a freelance writer and screenwriter. His work can be seen on Blasting News, Cinema Gold and The Washington Ledger.