×

‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Dominates Box Office With Mighty $70 Million Debut

UPDATED: Paramount’s family film “Sonic the Hedgehog” ignited over Presidents’ Day weekend with $70 million during its first four days in theaters, one of the best results for the holiday weekend.

“Sonic” earned $58 million in North America over the traditional weekend and $100 million globally, supplanting 2019’s “Detective Pikachu” ($54 millIon) for the biggest inaugural showing ever for a video game adaptation. 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” if director Jeff Fowler had 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 voices 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.”

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, the Margot Robbie-led superhero adventure landed in second place with $17.2 million over the weekend and pulled in $19.86 million through Monday. Those ticket sales, down 48% from its inaugural outing, push its domestic haul to $62 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 $14 million through Monday (and $12.35 for the three days), enough for third place. 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” benefitted from Valentine’s Day and came in fourth with $12.18 million over the weekend and made $13.26 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 brought in $5.1 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 snowy cataclysm, giving the film a “D” CinemaScore.

Elsewhere, Neon’s “Parasite” added an exceptional $5.5 million after its historic Oscar win and picked up $6.8 million 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. 

Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life” rounded out the top five, generating $11.45 million for the three days and $13.01 million through Monday. To date, the action comedy sequel has made an impressive $183 million.

Sam Mendes and Universal’s “1917” followed at No. 6 with $8 million over the weekend and $9.4 million during the four days. Though the WWI drama didn’t win the Oscar for best picture as predicted, “1917” became a sizable commercial hit, grossing $322 million worldwide.

As a whole, the domestic box office is up over 8% from last year according to Comscore. International figures, however, are hurting since coronavirus fears have closed theaters in China, the world’s second biggest moviegoing market.

Updated 2/17 at 8:30 a.m. to reflect Monday ticket sales.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Ken Shimura

    Ken Shimura Japanese Comedian Dies of Coronavirus Age 70

    Ken Shimura, a comedian who was a fixture on Japanese television for decades, died on Sunday evening from the coronavirus, the Japanese media reported Monday. He was 70, and immediately before his illness had been set for his first starring role in a feature film. Shimura entered a Tokyo hospital on March 20 with fever [...]

  • Gerard Schurmann, Film and TV Composer,

    Gerard Schurmann, Film and TV Composer, Dies at 96

    Gerard Schurmann, whose 1960s film scores included “The Bedford Incident” and “Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow” but who also composed extensively for the concert hall, died March 24 at his home in the Hollywood Hills. The cause of death was not announced; he was 96. Schurmann’s death was announced by his music publisher, Novello & [...]

  • Rita And Tom Hanks Coronavirus

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Return to U.S. After Coronavirus Diagnosis in Australia

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are back home in the U.S. after they revealed they had contracted coronavirus and were quarantined in Australia. Hanks gave an update on Twitter Saturday morning, thanking everyone who had helped them in Australia and assuring people that they are still isolating themselves in the U.S. “Hey, folks…We’re home now [...]

  • Film Comment Magazine Goes on Hiatus

    Film Comment Magazine to Go on Hiatus as Film at Lincoln Center Lays Off Half of Staff

    Many companies are being financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Film at Lincoln Center is the latest organization to have to lay off employees and pause some of their operations. On Friday, executive director Lesli Klainberg released a memo announcing that the center had to furlough or lay off about half of its [...]

  • "Birds of Prey" egg sandwich

    'Birds of Prey' Actor Bruno Oliver Recreates Harley Quinn's Famous Sandwich

    When actor Bruno Oliver booked the role of short order cook Sal in “Birds of Prey: (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),” he had no idea how significant Sal and his breakfast sandwich were to the story. “You couldn’t tell from the audition necessarily and as actors, we always worry about our scenes [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content