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Sonic the Hedgehog has the biggest opening weekend of any video game movie

$57 million at U.S. box offices is best for a video game movie’s debut

sonic the hedgehog (redesigned) looks at a drone floating outside a car window in Sonic the Hedgehog Image: Paramount Pictures
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Sonic the Hedgehog set a record for best opening weekend by a video game movie, ringing up an estimated $57 million at domestic box offices to overtake last year’s Detective Pikachu at $54.3 million.

Sonic’s $57 million figure is a three-day total, per The Hollywood Reporter. For the four-day weekend, THR is projecting a $68 million domestic haul for the Blue Blur. Sonic’s opening day estimate of $21 million on Friday likewise edges Detective Pikachu’s first-day take of $20.5 million on May 10, 2019.

The figures provide a surprise happy ending for Paramount; around the time Detective Pikachu was premiering last spring, Sonic fans were in open revolt against the character’s original CGI design. A makeover not only made the main character more familiar and appealing, the delay put the film on a President’s Day weekend, combined with a Valentine’s Day Friday. Sonic the Hedgehog also had been originally slated for a more competitive November 2019 launch — two weeks before Disney’s Frozen 2, which set an all-time record for highest gross by an animated film.

Moreover, Sonic’s four-day estimate gives Paramount its best opening weekend since Mission: Impossible - Fallout from the summer of 2018. Terminator: Dark Fate was the distributor’s biggest opener of 2019, pulling just $29 million.

Critically speaking, Sonic the Hedgehog is just short of Detective Pikachu, according to the two big aggregators. Rotten Tomatoes scores that 69% to 63% for Pikachu, while Metacritic has it 53 to 46, Pikachu. Still, Sonic the Hedgehog is now the third video game film to get better than 50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, following the breakthrough performance of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in 2018’s Rampage.

Elsewhere, things are not looking any better for Birds of Prey. After a lackluster $33 million debut last weekend, the R-rated superhero ensemble was forecast for $17 million for this weekend (and an estimated $19 million for the four-day weekend). That’s a near 50 percent drop, which is particularly dire for a holiday weekend.

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