“Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” Paramount’s family-friendly sequel based on the speedy blue video game character, brought in a strong $6.25 million from the box office in its preview screenings that began at 3 p.m. Thursday. The movie opens in 4,232 domestic locations this weekend.
That total is also inclusive of fan sneak preview screenings from Wednesday night in 700 theaters as “Sonic 2” looks like it will get off to a Sonic-fast start. By comparison, this is more than double the $3 million that the first “Sonic” earned from Thursday previews in February 2020. The studio is projecting “Sonic 2” an opening above $50 million this weekend, or between $51-54 million, against a $110 million budget, though tracking is imprecise given the lack of family films in theaters in the past four months.
Also opening in preview screenings this weekend is Universal’s “Ambulance,” the new thriller from Michael Bay that stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. The action film isn’t expected to be much of a competitor against “Sonic 2,” with tracking currently standing at just $10 million.
The first “Sonic the Hedgehog” from 2020 was just about the last box office hit pre-pandemic, debuting to $58 million and legging out to $148.9 million domestically. Optimism is high for the sequel as it has strong word-of-mouth from hardcore fans of the Sega hero.
The wild card though is that “Sonic” is one of the rare family films to actually open exclusively in theaters, the first since Universal’s “Sing 2” hit theaters back in December. That film grossed just $2.2 million in its opening but ultimately made $161 million domestic and $396 million worldwide, so there’s a wide range of outcomes possible.
The good news is that “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” already opened in 31 international markets, or just half of the overall international footprint, and has made $29.8 million since last weekend. It also has a solid 64% score on Rotten Tomatoes and is getting strong word of mouth from its early fan screenings.
Ben Schwartz returns as the voice of the Sega character Sonic the Hedgehog in “Sonic 2,” and he’s reunited with the film’s original cast members including James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Lee Majdoub and Jim Carrey as the evil Dr. Robotnik. They’re joined in the live-action cast by Shemar Moore as well as Colleen O’Shaughnessey as the voice of Tails and Idris Elba as the voice of Knuckles. Jeff Fowler returns to direct “Sonic the Hedgehog 2.”
“Ambulance” is directed by Michael Bay and is the story of a decorated veteran who is desperate for money to pay his wife’s medical bills and asks for help from his adopted brother, who is now a charismatic career criminal. The two plan to rob a bank in Los Angeles for a $32 million score, but when their heist goes wrong, they hijack an ambulance carrying a wounded cop and a paramedic onboard. The film also stars Eiza González, Moses Ingram, Jackson White, Zach Parker, Cedric Sanders, Garret Dillahunt, Keir O’Donnell and A Martinez.