Box Office: ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Beats Expectations With $57 Million – Variety

Paramount’s family film “Sonic the Hedgehog” ignited over Presidents Day weekend with $57 million in North America and $100 million globally, the biggest showing ever for a video game adaptation.

“Sonic” is expected to earn $68 million to $70 million through Monday, one of the best results for the holiday weekend. The better-than-expected start is even more notable since movies based on video games tend to be rejected by moviegoers.

That could have been a reality for “Sonic” had director Jeff Fowler not gone back to the drawing board after immense internet backlash from fans over the first trailer. The movie, which cost $87 million to make, was postponed three months to give the filmmakers enough time to redesign the title character. It proved to be a sound decision because audiences gave the film an “A” CinemaScore. Ben Schwartz voiced the furry blue creature, who teams up with a local sherif (James Marsden) to defeat the evil Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey).

“The consumer always determines what is right and what is wrong. They made their voices clear, and we listened,” said Chris Aronson, Paramount’s president of domestic distribution. “This movie exceeded [audience’s] expectations. That’s a testament to that reset and terrific performances by Jim Carrey and the entire cast.”

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After a string of financial failures in 2019 including “Gemini Man” and “Terminator: Dark Fate,” “Sonic’s” box office performance was a necessary win for Paramount. The studio could have a strong year in theaters should its sequels to “Top Gun” and “A Quiet Place” deliver.

“Sonic” unseated last weekend’s victor, Warner Bros.’ comic-book adaptation “Birds of Prey,” for the No. 1 spot on box office charts. After its disappointing $33 million debut, Margot Robbie-led superhero adventure landed in second place with $17.1 million over the weekend and is expected to pull in $19.6 million through Monday. Those ticket sales, a steep 48% decline from its inaugural outing, would push its domestic haul to $61.7 million.

A number of movies opened alongside “Sonic” this weekend, including Universal’s romance drama “The Photograph,” Sony’s thriller “Fantasy Island” and Searchlight Pictures’ remake “Downhill.”

Despite terrible reviews and weak audience reactions, “Fantasy Island” earned $12.4 million — enough for third place — and is eyeing $14 million through Monday. Blumhouse’s PG-13 horror remake of the late ’70s TV show carries a $7 million price tag. It should easily turn a profit, but poor word-of-mouth could negatively impact box office receipts in weeks to come.

“The Photograph” came in fourth with $12.2 million over the weekend and could make $13.3 over the four-day stretch, on par with expectations. That’s a solid start since the film cost $15 million to produce. “The Photograph,” starring Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield, was written and directed by Stella Meghie and produced by Will Packer (“Girls Trip,” “Ride Along”).

“It was the perfect release date,” said Universal’s president of domestic distribution Jim Orr, noting that Galentine’s Day (a nonofficial holiday celebrating female friendships) provided a nice boost in Thursday previews. “With [strong audience scores] from our core female audience, we’re going to have a nice run. It’s very encouraging.”

“Downhill,” a black comedy starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, debuted at No. 10 to a muted $4.6 million over the weekend and should bring in $5.2 million through Presidents Day. The remake of Ruben Ostlund’s “Force Majeure,” about a married couple forced to reevaluate their relationship after an avalanche threatens their family ski trip, premiered at Sundance to mixed reviews. Moviegoers reacted to the film not unlike they might to an impending cataclysm, giving the film a “D” CinemaScore.

Elsewhere, Neon’s “Parasite” added an exceptional $5.5 million after its historic Oscar win and looks to pull in $6.6 over the four days. Ticket sales for the Academy’s best picture winner shot up 234%, the biggest post-Oscars bump in the past decade, according to Neon. After opening in limited release last October, Bong Joon Ho’s dark thriller has amassed $44.34 million in the U.S., a huge result for a foreign language film. 

More to come…

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