Six months ago, the idea that “Sonic the Hedgehog” would have not only scored decent reviews but also would go on to have the biggest box office debut ever for a video game adaptation would have been laughable. But yet, here we are, halfway through February, and the blue hedgehog has shocked the world, in more ways than one.
Debuting in the #1 spot this President’s Day weekend, “Sonic the Hedgehog” not only turned in a record-breaking three-day total of $58 million at the box office but actually earned a shocking $70 million after the extended four-day holiday frame. For a film that seemed destined for the trash bin, this is a remarkable showing that proves that studios might want to listen to fan reaction once in a while.
Obviously, just several months ago, the idea that “Sonic the Hedgehog” was going to be a good movie was completely ludicrous as Paramount admitted that the first trailer was a colossal mistake and the main character would have to go back to the drawing board with a brand-new, more video game accurate look. And when a studio admits defeat, especially from fan outrage, common sense would dictate that the film is doomed for failure. Yet, the studio rebounded with a new trailer that showed off Sonic’s new look and turned in a finished product that not only delighted fans, but actually won over critics as well (including our own).
And sometimes, just sometimes, when the pre-release buzz is bad, a film can overcome those preconceptions with a quality film, which is what Paramount basically was able to do. So, not only do we have to hand it to the studio for breaking the previous video game film record set by “Detective Pikachu” ($54.3 million), but we have to give it up for the marketing team that started with an incredibly difficult situation and was able to rise above it.
With a Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes (64% overall) and an ‘A’ CinemaScore, it would appear that ‘Sonic’ has the buzz that could propel it to a strong box office run domestically. The worldwide picture is just beginning to take shape, but with the coronavirus scare in China wreaking havoc on the nation’s moviegoing (theaters have been shut down), Paramount can’t completely bank on the Middle Kingdom bringing in a lot of cash. So, even with a huge opening weekend, the film (which cost a reported $87 million before advertising) still needs to keep the buzz alive for a while to get into profitability.
On the other side of the buzz spectrum, you have Blumhouse’s most recent PG-13 horror film, “Fantasy Island.” With a terrible 9% on Rotten Tomatoes and a ‘C-’ CinemaScore, apparently “Fantasy Island” might not have been a smart re-imagining for the horror production company. However, despite the terrible reviews, the film was still able to squeak out a decent four-day box office total of $14 million. With a small budget, Blumhouse would have hoped for a slightly bigger total, but the folks at the studio are probably just happy to escape the weekend relatively unscathed. But the future sure doesn’t look bright for “Fantasy Island.”
Despite much better reviews (75% on Rotten Tomatoes) and a ‘B+’ CinemaScore, the romance film “The Photograph” wasn’t able to attract a huge audience, pulling in a mediocre $13.3 million after four days. With this much competition at the multiplex, there’s just a lot of choices and even though “The Photograph” was the clear date movie for Valentine’s Day weekend, the Lakeith Stanfield/Issa Rae film was just seemingly forgotten.
But even with the “meh” openings for “Fantasy Island” and “The Photograph,” both of those films is probably thankful they didn’t have the debut of the dramedy “Downhill,” which earned a dreadful $5.1 million after four days. The remake of the acclaimed “Force Majeure” stars Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus but just couldn’t match the original film’s quality, with fans and critics taking notice. Not only did the film earn a Rotten rating of 39%, but “Downhill” also scored the weekend’s worst CinemaScore, receiving a pitiful ‘D.’ That sort of rating is absolutely devastating for Searchlight Pictures’ film and likely spells the box office death for the remake.
Even with four major releases this weekend, Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” earned a massive Oscar bump, earning $6.8 million over the four-day weekend. Not only is that a huge leap from the previous weeks, but this weekend marks the biggest frame yet for the film, which has been sticking around theaters for the past four months. And with a current domestic total of $44.5 million, it’s not crazy to think that “Parasite” could get above $50 million by the end of next weekend. Depending on where it ends up, “Parasite” could crack the domestic top 3 all-time for foreign-language films—which includes “Hero” ($53.7M), “Life is Beautiful” ($57.6M), and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” ($128M)
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention “Birds of Prey,” err, “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.” In its second weekend, following last week’s terrible debut, the superhero team-up flick earned $20 million after four days. Given its awful opening a week ago, this is a decent hold, but not the rebound that WB was probably hoping for. After the weekend, ‘Birds’ sits at a domestic total of $62.2 million, which would have been only slightly better than what a lot of analysts thought the film would debut at. Sadly, it doesn’t appear that the title change was the shot in the arm that was needed.
Next weekend, the only major debuts are “The Call of the Wild” and “Brahms: The Boy II.” Neither film is expected to score a massive debut, as “Sonic the Hedgehog” has a strong chance at repeating atop the box office.
Here’s the full domestic top 10 for February 14 to February 17 (four-day totals):
- Sonic The Hedgehog – $70M (Debut)
- Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey – $20M ($62.2M)
- Fantasy Island – $14M (Debut)
- The Photograph – $13.3M (Debut)
- Bad Boys for Life – $12.8M ($183M)
- 1917 – $9.3M ($146M)
- Jumanji: The Next Level – $7M ($307M)
- Parasite – $6.8M ($44.5M)
- Dolittle – $6.3M ($72M)
- Downhill – $5.1M (Debut)