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411 Box Office Report: Sonic the Hedgehog Dominates With $68 Million Four-Day Weekend Take

February 16, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Sonic the Hedgehog Movie

All hail the new video game movie opening weekend king in Sonic the Hedgehog, which coasted to an easy #1 at the box office this weekend. The Paramount Pictures take on the Sega video game character brought in $57 million over the three-day weekend and will have an estimated $68 million by the end of the day on Monday. That’s an improvement over the already-rosy Saturday projections and gives the film the record opening weekend for a video game adaptation, breaking Detective Pikachu’s $54.3 million start. It also marks the best opening for a Jim Carrey-starring film since 2003’s Bruce Almighty took in $68 million.

The success of Sonic is the culmination of a wild ride for the video game character toward the big screen. After years of development hell, Paramount got the film up and running only to have the first trailer beset by an internet-wide mocking. That kind of bad buzz is difficult to overcome, but Paramount and director Jeff Fowler made the decision to redesign Sonic completely. That move added $5 million to the budget, pushing it to a spendy $95 million, but it also paid off in quelling the outroar over the film. That allowed the movie to earn some decent (if not great) reviews, standing at 63% on Rotten Tomatoes. But the key with Sonic is that it’s a family film, which is much more potentially affected by word of mouth. And word of mouth is great here, with an A CinemaScore and four stars/67% definite recommend via PostTrak. The positive audience buzz allowed the film to have strong holds throughout the weekend, down just 2% from its overperforming Friday and easing 24% today.

All this means that Paramount is in a position to make a pretty penny (and assumedly a sequel) with Sonic. It’s added $43 million overseas for an even $100 million three-day worldwide weekend. With no major competition coming for family audiences until Pixar’s Onward on March 6th, Sonic should be poised to at least top $175 million in the US. It will be a hit for sure, letting Paramount breathe a sigh of relief.

Sonic surged its way to the top, but it didn’t suck all the air out of the room as Birds of Prey had a decent hold for its second frame. The DC comic book film scored up $17.1 million over three days, down 48%. That’s a solid second weekend for a film that underperformed. The movie is up to $59.3 million domestically and $142.9 million worldwide, which aren’t great but are still keeping this film moving toward break-even or a bit of profit against its $80 million budget. It should be able to top $90 million to $95 million in the US by the end of its run.

Fantasy Island came in at #3 in its opening weekend, meeting the low end of its expectations. The horror take on the 1970s and 1980s ABC series nailed down $12.4 million, a fine if unspectacular result. The film beat the $8.9 million take of the fall’s PG-13 horror flick Countdown, but was short of the $18.2 million that January 2019’s similarly-rated Escape Room started with.

Sony Pictures knew what it had in Fantasy Island: a low-budget horror film with a certain level of name value that they could make a modest profit from. That’s exactly what’s happening here, and they were smart enough not to go all-out on the marketing, instead only giving a moderate spend. It was a smart move, as critics hated it at 9% on RT. Audiences gave it a middle-of-the-road (for the genre) C+ CinemaScore, neither of which say good things about its box office legs (to say nothing of the people who will stay away as word spreads how much it’s not the original series).

But this one doesn’t need legs, as it only cost $7 million. With $7.6 million overseas, the film had a worldwide start of $20 million which already puts it on a strong road to some profit. The film should finish domestically in the $25 million to $30 million range at best, which will be a fine result.

The Photograph was a relative misfire as it failed to capture the Valentine’s Day crowd, scoring $12.3 million. That’s slightly off expectations, which had it in the mid to high teens. Universal certainly hoped for a better result than this, being the only romance-style film in the marketplace right now. These films are often critic-proof so the 74% RT score, while good, likely didn’t help out as much as it would have other films. And while audiences liked it at a B+ CinemaScore that’s actually slightly below average for romantic dramas.

This is still not a disaster for Universal, it must be said. The Photograph certainly could have used a bigger Valentine’s Day bounce, but it’s not an expensive film. Its $15 million budget dwarfs Fantasy Island, but like it a $25 million to $30 million gross would put it in okay shape.

Bad Boys For Life was down a mere 6% in its fifth weekend, bringing in $11.3 million. The Bad Boys threequel is now up to $181.3 million domestically and $368.3 million worldwide, making a $200 million-plus final domestic gross a sure thing. It’s a major hit against its $90 million budget.

1917 may have walked away from othe Oscars with a disappointing haul, but it’s still performing okay in theaters as it was down just 12% to $8.1 million. The war action-drama now has $144.4 million domestically and $322.5 million, profitable in comparison to its $100 million budget. The film is still on course to end at around $160 million in the US.

Jumanji: The Next Level remains the film you can’t keep down, as it actually rose 3% in its tenth week to bring in $5.7 million. The action-comedy sequel surpassed the $300 million domestic mark, with totals of $305.7 million stateside and $778.7 million worldwide. The film should end its run in the US with around $320 million, huge against its $130 million budget.

Parasite translated its Oscar success to a major boost as it jumped back into the top ten. NEON pushed the Bong Joon-ho-directed Best Picture winner back into 2,001 theaters for a 234% jump from last weekend with $5.5 million. The South Korean black comedy now has $43.2 million domestically and $183 million worldwide against an $11.8 million production budget. Needless to say, it has its studio rolling in cash.

Dolittle was down 23% in its fifth week with $5.1 million. The Robert Downey Jr-starring fantasy adventure has been holding on well thanks to family audiences, but they finally started to leave for greener, Hedgehog-heavy pastures. The film has $70.5 million domestically and $181.1 million worldwide, nowhere near breaking even against a $175 million budget. It is still looking like it will finish out with around $80 million in the US.

Downhill was a clunker for Searchlight Pictures, bringing in $4.7 million. The comedy had the lowest opening for a Will Ferrell film since 2012’s Casa de mi Padre. Chalk this up to Searchlight knowing they had a dud, which didn’t resonate with critics (40% on RT) and was downright loathed by moviegoers with a D CinemaScore. Downhill will see a quick exit from the top ten and won’t likely top $15 million domestically.

Next weekend will still belong to Sonic as 20th Century Studios’ adaptation of Call of the Wild aims for $10 million to $15 million, while horror sequel Brahms: The Boy 2 should hit the high single digits.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Sonic The Hedgehog – $57 million ($57 million total)
2. Birds of Prey – $17.1 million ($54.3 million total)
3. Fantasy Island – $12.4 million –
4. The Photograph – $12.3 million –
5. Bad Boys For Life – $11.3 million ($166.3 million total)
6. 1917 – $8.1 million ($132.5 million total)
7. Jumanji: The Next Level – $5.7 million ($298.5 million total)
8. Parasite – $5.5 million
9. Dolittle – $5.1 million ($64 million total)
10. Downhill – $4.7 million ($510.5 million total)