"Sonic the Hedgehog," Paramount Pictures' live-action family comedy based on the blue SEGA video game speedster, earned $3 million at the box office in preview screenings beginning 5 p.m. Thursday from 3,150 screens.
"Sonic" races into Valentine's Day and President's Day weekend as one of three new wide releases this week, including the romance "The Photograph" at Universal and Sony's horror movie "Fantasy Island" from Blumhouse Pictures.
Paramount is projecting an opening in the low-$40 million range for the film budgeted at $95 million. The movie is a live-action, CGI hybrid that was meant to open in theaters last year but was postponed to fix Sonic's design after his design was met with massive backlash from online fans.
The hope is that "Sonic the Hedgehog" can spawn a sequel, and it might be keeping its eyes on another live-action/CGI hybrid movie from last year based on an iconic video game franchise, "Pokemon: Detective Pikachu." That film opened in the summer and brought in $5.7 million in previews before opening to $54.3 million. Another comp would be last year's "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part," which opened in February and made $1.5 million in previews and then opened to $34.1 million.
For some other comparisons, Disney's live-action remake of "Dumbo" from last year made $2.6 million in previews and opened to $46 million, and "How to Train Your Dragon 3" also made $3 million in previews and opened to $55 million.
Directed by Jeff Fowler, "Sonic the Hedgehog" follows the SEGA video game icon (voiced by Ben Schwartz) as he flees his world and arrives on Earth to hide from those who want to take his super-speed powers. But after an accidental encounter with a small-town Montana sheriff (James Marsden), Sonic's presence is exposed to the world, and he must team up with the cop to avoid being hunted down by the evil Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). Tika Sumpter also stars in the film, which was written by Pat Casey and Josh Miller.
"The Photograph," from Universal Pictures and starring Lakeith Stanfield and Issa Rae, earned $650,000 in previews on Thursday. It opens on 2,165 screens this weekend.
"The Photograph" is about a journalist who forms an unexpected relationship with the estranged daughter of a recently deceased photographer he is writing a story on. Lil Rel Howery, Rob Morgan and Courtney B. Vance also star in the film, which was written and directed by Stella Meghie. The film has a reported budget of $16 million and is projected to earn a 4-day opening weekend of $12-14 million.
"Fantasy Island" did not open in Thursday night previews but is projected to earn between $13-15 million over the 4-day weekend against a $7 million budget.
"Fantasy Island" is a dark take on the classic Ricardo Montalban TV series, starring Michael Peña in Montalban's role as Mr. Roarke, the owner of a mysterious remote island that offers to make the wishes of its visitors come true. But for Roarke's visitors, those granted wishes soon turn into nightmares, forcing them to figure out the island's secrets if they want to make it out alive. Lucy Hale, Maggie Q, Portia Doubleday and Michael Rooker also star in the film.
For the record, a previous version of this story listed the budget for "Fantasy Island" as $18 million. We regret the error.