Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” arrived on box office tracking on Thursday morning, and estimates are predicting an opening weekend of $40-45 million.
That would be a solid start for this family film adaptation of the SEGA video game series, especially considering the viral reaction to the film’s initial trailer. Sonic fans and casual gamers alike panned the heavily altered version of the speedy blue hedgehog, prompting Paramount to push the film’s release from November 2019 to February in order to redesign Sonic to more closely resemble his appearance in SEGA’s games.
The new version, which was overseen by Sonic animator Tyson Hesse, was far better received by fans when Paramount released a second trailer in November, deleting the one with the original design from their YouTube page. IndieWire reported that the redesign cost $5 million, raising the film’s production budget to $95 million.
The closest comp to “Sonic” will be last year’s “Detective Pikachu,” which opened to $54.3 million and grossed $431 million worldwide against a $150 million budget before marketing. A $400 million global run will likely be the baseline target for “Sonic,” which will require a strong result from Asian markets where Sonic is also a popular figure.
“Sonic the Hedgehog” stars Ben Schwartz as the voice of SEGA’s iconic hedgehog, who escapes to Earth to flee those who wish to harness his powers. But when his speed accidentally triggers a power outage in Montana, Sonic becomes hunted once again by the evil Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) and must rely on the help of a bewildered small town sheriff (James Marsden). Tika Sumpter also stars in the film, which is directed by Jeff Fowler from a script by Pat Casey and Josh Miller.
Also opening on February 14 is Sony/Blumhouse’s “Fantasy Island,” a horror-tinged reimagining of the Ricardo Montalban ’70s TV series in which visitors to a remote island have their wishes granted for a price. Made on a $7 million budget, the film is tracking for an opening in the mid-teens and stars Michael Pena as Mr. Roarke, the owner of Fantasy Island that was played by Montalban on the original show.
Finally, Universal is releasing “The Photograph,” a romance from writer-director Stella Meghie that stars Issa Rae as a photographer who falls in love with the journalist (LaKeith Stanfield) sent to write a story on her late mother. The film is projected for an opening of around $10-12 million.