Box Office: ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Speeding to $65 Million Opening Weekend

Sonic the Hedgehog” is speeding to a $65 million opening at the North American box office this President’s Day weekend, according to estimates.

Paramount’s action-adventure, based on the Sega video game character, had been pegged to generate $40-45 million prior to its launch. Should estimates hold, it could break the $54 million record set last year by “Detective Pikachu” for the best three-day domestic opening for a video-game movie

Opening at 4,130 location, the film received an A CinemaScore from first-day audiences. The live-action and CGI hybrid follows the world’s fastest hedgehog teaming up with his new best friend Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) to defend the planet from the evil Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). Reviews have been mostly positive, generating a 64 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Originally slated to premiere on Nov. 8, 2019, the film suffered a brutal fan backlash over the design of Sonic, prompting Paramount and director Jeff Fowler to delay the release in order to re-design the main character. The opening weekend results seem to validate the decision for the movie, which carries an $87 million price tag. It bows this weekend in 41 countries overseas, making up about 60 percent of its international footprint.

Warner Bros.’ second weekend of the superhero pic “Birds of Prey” is heading for second place with about $20 million, following its disappointing $33 million opening weekend. It should finish the holiday period with about $63 million in its first 11 days.

Besides “Sonic,” the three other openings this weekend performed in line with forecasts. Universal’s romantic drama “The Photograph” and Sony-Blumhouse’s “Fantasy Island” will finish in the $13-$15 million range for their launches. Searchlight’s debut of “Downhill,” starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus is heading for a quiet debut of about $5 million.

Fantasy Island,” a take on the 1977-1984 TV series of the same name, stars Michael Peña as the mysterious Mr. Roarke as he makes his guests’ dreams come true at his tropical resort. Opening-day audiences at 2,784 venues gave it an unimpressive C- Cinemascore, but it will likely be a profitable bet for Sony and Blumhouse, given its lean $7 million budget. The cast includes Lucy Hale, Maggie Q, Austin Stowell, Portia Doubleday, Jimmy O. Yang, Ryan Hansen and Michael Rooker. Reviews have been dismal with a 10 percent Rotten Tomatoes score.

“The Photograph,” showing at 2,516 theaters, follows the estranged daughter (Issa Rae) of a photographer, who falls in love with the journalist (LaKeith Stanfield) assigned to write a profile on her mother. It was written and directed by Stella Meghie and produced by Will Packer. Critics have been impressed, resulting in a 79 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, and audiences gave it a B+ Cinemascore.

“Downhill” had been expected to debut to a modest $4 million with a launch on 2,275 screens, and audiences gave it an D Cinemascore. The movie, a remake of Ruben Ostlund’s “Force Majeure,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to mixed reviews. Ferrell and  Louis-Dreyfus play a married couple forced to reevaluate their relationship after an avalanche threatens their family ski trip. It’s the first film to be released under Disney’s recently renamed Searchlight Pictures label.

Sony’s fifth weekend of “Bad Boys for Life” is heading for fifth place with $12 million while holdovers “1917” and “Jumanji: The Next Level” are fighting for sixth place in the $9 million range. “1917” should finish the weekend near $150 million while the “Jumanji” sequel should hit $312 million after more than two months at the box office.

Universal’s fifth weekend of “Dolittle” and Neon’s “Parasite,” which won best picture at the Oscars, are due to finish around $7-8 million. “Parasite” should lift its total North American take to $46 million. Neon doubled the location count to 2,001 in the wake of the South Korean sensation’s four Oscar wins.

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