“Sonic the Hedgehog” is giving Paramount its best box office news in over a year, with a currently estimated 3-day opening weekend of $55 million to become the best opening weekend ever for a video game adaptation.
Released this weekend on 4,167 screens, the SEGA mascot’s big screen debut just edged out the $54.3 million opening of “Detective Pikachu,” bringing industry estimates for the 4-day Presidents’ Day weekend to $63 million.
The delayed release of this film prompted by an intense rejection of Sonic’s initial design is turning out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise. Moved from last November to this extended Presidents’ Day weekend, “Sonic” is standing out in the movie marketplace as a popular family offering with no major competition currently in theaters and none coming until Pixar’s “Onward” arrives in three weeks.
Audience reception, driven by both families and hardcore Sonic fans, has been very strong with an A on CinemaScore, 4/5 on Postrak, and 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Even critics have been fairly positive with a 65% Rotten Tomatoes score.
As for Paramount, “Sonic” is a great start to what it hopes will be a strong 2020 after the studio failed to release a $100 million-plus domestic grosser last year amidst a long merger process between Viacom and CBS. If this weekend’s estimates hold, “Sonic” will have an opening weekend that’s more than double any of Paramount’s 2019 films, including the $29 million opening of “Terminator: Dark Fate.” In fact, it has the highest opening weekend for the studio since “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” which opened to $61.2 million in July 2018.
Taking second is Warner Bros.’ “Birds of Prey,” which is estimated to gross $17 million 3-day/$19.5 million 4-day in its second weekend. That would give the DC film a total of $61.5 million after two weekends, comparable to what the similarly-budget “Ford v Ferrari” grossed with $59.4 million after two weekends.
In a narrow race for third are this weekend’s two other new releases: Universal’s “The Photograph” and Sony/Blumhouse’s “Fantasy Island,” both of which are headed for a $14 million 4-day weekend. Reception for “The Photograph” has been far more positive with a B+ on CinemaScore and a 76% Rotten Tomatoes critics score, while “Fantasy Island” has been panned with a C- on CinemaScore and 10% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Finally, way down the charts in the No. 10 spot is Searchlight’s black comedy starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus “Downhill,” which premiered at Sundance and got mixed reviews with 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences panned the film with a D on CinemaScore, and it is projected for a $5.6 million 4-day opening weekend from 2,301 screens.
Estimates currently have “Downhill” being beaten on the charts by this year’s Best Picture Oscar winner “Parasite,” which NEON expanded to 2,001 screens after it became the first non-English film to win the top Academy Award. The film is estimated to make just under $7 million over the extended weekend, which would bring its U.S. total to $44.6 million.