The debacle over the original CGI design for the lead character of ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ is a distant memory, as the video game movie zipped past expectations and collected an astounding 57 million gold rings… er dollars over three days. With projections for Monday/President’s Day, it is expected to earn $68M over four days, with some speculating that it could even reach $70M. It was only projected to make between $45-50M over four days, going into the weekend.
This opening is great news in general, but it’s especially significant because of the CGI outrage that erupted when Sonic was first revealed… and was hastily torn to shreds by fans online. Paramount invested millions to redesign the character pretty much from scratch, forcing its release date to be delayed several months, in order to placate fans. Had the fans not turned out to support the revised picture after all that, it would have effectively shut down the entire internet as any sort of barometer that studios pay attention to.
It helps that the finished product is loaded with Easter Eggs for fans, including references to locations, characters, and even music in the games. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is a relatively positive 63%. Audiences gave it an amazing A CinemaScore and 4 out of 5 stars via PostTrak. (Parents and kids under 12 gave it 4½ stars.)
Domestically, ‘Sonic’ now has the highest opening ever for a video game movie, besting ‘Detective Pikachu’ which opened with $54.3M over three days last year. (It didn’t open on a holiday weekend.) But ‘Sonic’ doesn’t beat ‘Pikachu’ on a global scale, as its opening worldwide is $100M versus ‘Pikachu’s $157.3M. ‘Pikachu’ is the highest-grossing video game movie of all time, so it remains to be seen if ‘Sonic’ can top it in the long run.
Last weekend’s underperforming champ, ‘Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey’ came in at #2 with $17.6M for three days and $20M for four.
The low-budget Blumhouse thriller ‘Fantasy Island’ debuts at #3, with $12.9M 3-Day/$14.6M 4-Day. It was only projected to make about $15M, so it’s close to that. It’s a Blumhouse movie, so its production budget was a minuscule $7M. Sony, who distributed the film, held off on screening ‘Fantasy Island’ until the last minute (which usually happens when movies suck), resulting in a late-breaking RT score of… wow… 9%! Audiences agree, blasting it with a low C- CinemaScore, and 2 measly stars out of 5.
Lucy Hale stars, and her new CW series ‘Katy Keene’ is being heavily promoted. That helped sell ‘Fantasy Island’ somewhat. Also, horror movies are some folks’ Valentine’s Day destination of choice, so that helped as well.
But the problem is that ‘Fantasy Island’ didn’t come across as scary in the trailer, so horror fans weren’t enticed. Like most Blumhouse movies, this PG-13 entry was aimed at teenage girls, but most teenage girls have never heard of the original ‘Fantasy Island’, so there was no name recognition. (See also: the recent dud, ‘Charlie’s Angels‘.) And anyone old enough to remember the 1970s-80s TV show, is old enough to HAVE kids that are the target audience for this movie. The movie wasn’t made for them either, because it’s nothing like the series, which wasn’t horror at all, but basically an anthology soap opera, with a new cast of famous guest stars every week. The movie also didn’t include the most famous character from the show, Tattoo, the little person (played by the late Hervé Villechaize) who served as the assistant to the lead character, Mr. Roarke (played by Michael Peña in the movie).
Speaking of Valentine’s Day, a more traditional romance movie, ‘The Photograph’ landed at #4, with $12.6M 3-Day/ $13.8M 4-Day. Its RT score is a strong 75%, and audiences gave it a B+ CinemaScore and 3 stars via PostTrak.
Sony’s ‘Bad Boys For Life’ slips to #5, with $11.3M 3-Day/ $12.45M 4-day.
(Keep in mind the numbers below are estimated projections.)
- Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount) – $53.9M 3-Day / $64.3M 4-Day
- Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (Warner Brothers) – $17.6M 3-Day / $20M 4-Day
- Fantasy Island (Sony/Blumhouse) – $12.9M 3-Day / $14.6M 4-Day
- The Photograph (Universal) – $12.6M 3-Day / $13.8M 4-Day
- Bad Boys For Life (Sony) – $5.5M 3-Day / $12.45M 4-Day
Outside of the Top Five, there were a few milestones. This year’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture, ‘Parasite’ exploded with ticket sales increasing 400%! (It’s already out on DVD.) Rian Johnson’s crowd-pleasing mystery ‘Knives Out’ has hit $300M at the global box office, amid news that Lionsgate has officially greenlit a sequel. Meanwhile, Sony’s ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ hit $300M at the domestic box office.
Don’t expect much action next weekend. The only movies that may make any noise are ‘Call of the Wild’ starring Harrison Ford, and/or ‘Brahms: The Boy II’. Neither is going to give ‘Sonic’ a run for its money. But check back to see how things go.