With $800,000 on Wednesday, and therefore a new accumulation of $148.9 million over 20 days, Paramount and Sega’s sonic the hedgehog 2 will exceed today’s unadjusted domestic total of $148.9 million from sonic the hedgehog. That includes $146 million from its pre-Covid release and a few extra dollars from its Summer 2020 re-release when it was one of a handful of recent releases helping to keep theaters open for business. Either way, it will make Jeff Wadlow Sonic 2 the highest-grossing video game-based film of all time by unadjusted domestic revenue. This is the second time in a row that Sonic broke that specific box office record, making it (by default) the Batman or Spider Man video game franchises.
Tomorrow it will likely become the first movie based on a video game to top $150 million in unadjusted gross. But what about inflation? Well, once it tops $155 million this weekend, it’ll be better than the adjusted gross receipts of Pokemon: The First Movie ($85 million in 1999) and mortal combat ($70 million in 1995) to become the second-highest “tickets sold” video game film. Alas, it doesn’t come close to Angelina Jolie’s debut grave robber, which grossed $131 million in 2001, or $212 million after adjusting for inflation. Fun fact: The idea of Jolie as Lara Croft in a big-budget ($115 million) action movie was so enticing that she debuted with $47 million in June 2001.
It was the third biggest opening ever for a non-sequel behind x-men ($54 million in 2000) and jurassic park ($50 million in 1993). Alas, it wasn’t very good (it was clearly cut into ribbons in post-production). Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, a far superior mix of Indiana Jones and James Bond pairing Jolie with a Gerard Butler, paid for the sins of its predecessor with a miserable $65 million domestic gross. And so, the “Tomb Raider Trap” was born! Conversely, sonic the hedgehog 2 benefited from the goodwill of its surprisingly solid predecessor, a film that didn’t put nostalgia and fan-bait before it was simply a really enjoyable fantasy-adventure comedy for kids.
I was not huge on Unexplored, but A) my son liked it quite well and B) the movie got the results Sony was hoping for. The $120 million actor, starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg, earned $146 million domestically (behind just the two Sonic inflation-free movies among video game movies) and will likely be dragged kicking and screaming in protest through the $400 million worldwide cap before it hits theaters. That will only put him behind Carnage ($430 million in 2018), Pokemon Detective ($433 million in 2019) and Warcraft ($438 million in 2016), although only Carnage (which only cost $120 million) is considered a real hit. So, yeah, I think the video game curse is over.
sonic the hedgehog, which was mostly made even before Covid, earned “just” $306 million worldwide at the start of 2020, with the sequel currently sitting at $290 million worldwide. It may not reach the top of the video game list for worldwide grossing, but A) no movie has/probably won’t get a boost from China (Warcraft earned $220 million after an early start of $90 million on Wednesday/Thursday and Carnage earned $155 million there) and B) when you cost no more than $110 million, you don’t need China to save your butt. Again, Paramount has been on such a roll lately (Scream, Jackass Forever, The Lost Cityetc.) which I am looking forward to Top Gun: Maverick this morning.
Most important, sonic the hedgehog is a successful franchise because, as it is new, audiences have seen and loved the first film and have come forward to find out more. Yes, Paramount declared its intentions for a Paramount+ streaming show for Knuckles, Idris Elba’s himbo scene stealer, but that wasn’t until after the first Sonic was a much-loved hit and they knew Knuckles would be a crowd favorite. I’m not thrilled with this automatic multimedia saturation, but that’s how it is, at least in the short term. Anyway, after years in the dark ages, sonic the hedgehog is Paramount’s first successful new IP franchise since GI Joe: The Rise of the Cobra and star trek both in the summer of 2009.
As for the curse of the video game, it was a non-entity since grave robber and Carnage both earned respectable box office receipts ($56m/$274m and $101m/$433m) as of early 2018. Branded characters with genre-specific storylines are key, as well as the making a movie that works whether the audience cares about the IP or not. That sonic the hedgehog 2 features an extended comedic subplot for Natasha Rothwell shows the filmmakers got it. Honestly, I don’t care what Sonic 3 done with, as the film’s mid-credits cookie teases, Shadow the Hedgehog. I just want to see Rachel team up with Knuckles and/or finally meet Jim Carrey’s Doctor Robotnik.