Courtesy : CNN
If a couple of months ago, anyone would have bet that Sonic The Hedgehog film will go on to have a rather fantastic opening at the box office - they would have been termed to 'stupid.' The internet backlash that the film received when the first trailer of the film was released was one of the talking points and given the fate another film, Cats faced, it was almost sealed that Sonic will be a box office disaster too.
Just like Cats, Sonic could have easily suffered the same fate. But rather than releasing the movie when it was initially slated to debut last November, Paramount delayed the film so director Jeff Fowler could redesign the animated character, whose creepy teeth initially made him look a little too human. It was an unusual move, but one that ultimately resulted in positive reviews and a three-day opening weekend of $58 million, the best showing ever for a movie based on a video game.
“I can’t remember another time there’s been a reset, but it was incredibly smart of everyone involved to listen to the fans and give them what they want,” said Paramount’s president of domestic distribution Chris Aronson, who worked at Fox when the studio pumped the brakes on Sonic. “The consumer always determines what is right and what is wrong. They made their voices clear, and we listened.”
“On paper if you look at everything that happened, you’d say this movie is in trouble,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore. “A lot of people would have written it off.”
Messes behind the camera that spill into public consciousness can often signal trouble to audiences. Instead, the retooling of visual effects only heightened awareness and increased interest in the film. The live-action and CGI hybrid follows the world’s fastest hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz), who teams up with a local cop (James Marsden) to defend the planet from a waxy mustached villain named Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). As one of the only options for ticket buyers with young children, Sonic won over family crowds. It won’t face much competition among that demographic until Disney’s “Onward” opens on March 6.
“Huge changes to marketing or the movie itself are usually a kiss of death because, generally speaking, it connects the film with something negative,” Dergarabedian said. “This was really a huge win because the studio was able to, in an efficient way, take that negative and turn it into a positive.”
“This movie exceeded [audience’s] expectations,” Aronson said. “That’s a testament to that reset and terrific performances by Jim Carrey and the entire cast.”
For Paramount, Sonic was a crucial box office victory. The studio has been saddled with a series of big-budget disasters such Gemini Man and Terminator: Dark Fate last year, while smaller movies such as Wonder Park or Dora and the Lost City of Gold hardly brought in the kind of ticket sales that inspire new franchises. But power players at Paramount are optimistic that Sonic signals a change in tides. Top Gun: Maverick and A Quiet Place 2 are among its most anticipated titles set for 2020.
“This is part of the Jim [Gianopulos] turnaround of the studio,” Aronson said, referring to the studio’s CEO. “This is the first step. Paramount Pictures will be back.”