“Sonic The Hedgehog 2,” Paramount’s sequel to the iconic Sega video game character, grossed an estimated $71 million domestically when it opened this weekend, according to the studio. The number not only exceeded expectations that had seen the film close in on $50 million, but also marks the biggest opening ever for a movie based on a video game.

The sequel, which stars Jim Carrey as Doctor Robotnik, also topped the original, which opened in February 2020 at $58 million.

The Big Weekend is a win for Paramount and theater operators.

The studio had a strong start to 2022 thanks to two sequels that exceeded box office expectations. “Scream,” the fifth installment in the horror franchise, opened to $30 million in January before earning $140 million worldwide. Now, “Sonic The Hedgehog 2” looks set to be one of the biggest hits of the year.

As for theaters, this is great news at a crucial time.

There haven’t been big box office hits since last month “The Batman” and “Sonic The Hedgehog 2″ can serve as a bridge to the lucrative summer movie season, which kicks off early next month with ” Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”

The record opening of “Sonic The Hedgehog 2” is also a good sign that consumers are ready to buy tickets for family movies – an important genre that has been somewhat lacking in theaters since the pandemic began.

“I think there was this idea that families weren’t ready to go back to the cinema, but the performance of ‘Sonic 2’ this weekend proves that family audiences are back,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore (SCOR), told CNN Business. “Family audiences are one of the biggest segments of the box office, so this is good news for other family movies and the industry as a whole as we head into summer.”