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Box Office: ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Racing to $55 Million Debut

Sonic the Hedgehog” is racing to a dominant $55 million opening at 3,150 North American locations during the four-day President’s Day weekend in a launch that’s above forecasts, early estimates showed Friday.

Universal’s romantic drama “The Photograph” and Sony-Blumhouse’s “Fantasy Island” are both performing in line with forecasts in the $12 million to $14 million for their launches. Searchlight’s debut of “Downhill,” starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus is ahead of expectations at about $7 million.

Sonic the Hedgehog” started with $3 million at Thursday night previews, matching 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, had been pegged 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.

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Warner Bros.’ second weekend of “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.

“Fantasy Island” and “The Photograph” will be in a battle for third with the fifth weekend of Sony’s hit “Bad Boys for Life,” which will hit $185 million domestically by Monday.

“Fantasy Island,” a take on the 1977-1984 TV series of the same name, stars Michael Pena 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,” showing at 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,” had bee 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. 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, 

Holdovers “1917” and “Jumanji: The Next Level” should be fighting for sixth place in the $10 million to $12 million range. “1917” should finish the weekend near $150 million while the “Jumanji” sequel should hit $312 million after more than two months.

Neon’s  “Parasite,” which won Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars, is pegged to take in about $9 million at 2,001 sites, lifting its total North American take to $46 million. Neon doubled the location count in the wake of the South Korean sensation’s four Academy Awards.

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