“Sonic the Hedgehog” raced to a solid $3 million at 3,150 North American locations on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, Universal’s romantic drama “The Photograph” grossed $650,000 in previews from 2,250 theaters.
Sonic’s earnings match that of “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” which opened last year with $55 million. Preview audiences gave “Sonic the Hedgehog” a 4 out 5 PostTrak rating.
Paramount’s action adventure, based on the Sega video game character, is expected to dominate domestic moviegoing with $40 million to $45 million from 4,130 venues over the Presidents’ Day holiday weekend. The film, a live-action and CGI hybrid, follows the world’s fastest hedgehog, teaming up with his new best friend Tom (James Marsden) to defend the planet from the evil Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). Reviews have been mostly positive, generating a 64% Rotten Tomatoes rating.
“Sonic” will have to resonate beyond its core demographic to recoup its $87 million price tag. The film also bows this weekend in 41 countries overseas, about 60% of its international footprint, which could help boost box office receipts.
Paramount decided in May to push “Sonic the Hedgehog” back three months, from Nov. 8 to Valentine’s Day, following fan criticism over the appearance and design of the titular blue character.
Popular on Variety
Tracking for “Fantasy Island,” a take on the 1977-1984 TV series of the same name, is coming in between $13 million and $15 million for the Feb. 14-17 weekend. Michael Pena stars as the mysterious Mr. Roarke as he makes his guests’ dreams come true at his tropical resort. Sony opted to forego Thursday previews.
Jeff Wadlow directed “Fantasy Island,” which 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.
“The Photograph” is on pace to earn $12 million to $15 million from 2,516 theaters. The film, which cost $16 million to produce, 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. “The Photograph” was written and directed by Stella Meghie and produced by Will Packer. Critics have been impressed, resulting in a 79% Rotten Tomatoes score.
This weekend’s final newcomer, “Downhill,” is expected to debut to a modest $4 million when it launches on 2,275 screens. The movie, a remake of Ruben Ostlund’s “Force Majeure,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to mixed reviews. Will Ferrell and Julia 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,
Year-to-date box office has a 6.7% lead over 2019, with $1.12 billion, through Feb. 12, according to Comscore.
“A crowded weekend loaded with newcomers will be topped by a very rare example of a big-screen video game adaptation, as ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ stands poised to beat the odds and give the genre a rare and much-welcomed win at the box office,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore.