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Sonic the Hedgehog taking his mark, ready to run

What’s the currency exchange between golden rings and United States Dollars? I don’t know, but whatever it is, Sonic may want to head to the Green Hill Zone and start collecting, because as it turns out, makeovers for hedgehogs don’t come cheap. The recently revealed redesign for the titular character in next year’s video game adaptation Sonic the Hedgehog reportedly cost a ton of money, but perhaps not as much as has been speculated.

Following the outcry and backlash to the first Sonic the Hedgehog trailer that debuted back in April, Paramount delayed the film and director Jeff Fowler promised fans that changes were coming. We saw the result of those changes with the recently released trailer, which led to many wondering just how expensive it was to reanimate the Blue Blur. It turns out that the cost of skeletal reconstruction, extensive dental work and a pair of new gloves is close to $5 million.

This is according to IndieWire, which spoke with a source close to the film’s production, who pegged the redesign as hitting Paramount’s checkbook for a little less than $5 million. That is by no means cheap, representing about 5.5% of the film’s estimated $90 million budget. Yet, while the film already had a sizable budget and has been delayed to accommodate the redesign, $5 million isn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.

Following the release of the new trailer, there was talk claiming that Sonic's redesign cost $35 million, thereby ballooning Sonic the Hedgehog’s budget up to $125 million. But as IndieWire noted, that number is a wild overestimation of what the changes actually cost. Though again, $5 million is still a lot of money the studio surely didn’t plan on spending before that first trailer released.

The reason the redesign cost $5 million instead of $35 million is because of how relatively little actually needed to be changed. It turns out that the VFX work on Sonic the Hedgehog was largely incomplete when the first trailer was released, with the only stuff that was complete basically being what we saw in that trailer. So it wasn’t like the whole movie was finished and all the VFX shots of Sonic had to be redone.

Therefore, with the $5 million, they were able to go back and make the changes to the finished material, and for the stuff that was unfinished, they were able to work with the redesign in mind. So in a way, the timing of things worked out better than it could have had the first trailer debuted later and the backlash come once more of the VFX work was finished.

A cost of $5 million isn’t cheap, but it may turn out to be money well spent for Sonic the Hedgehog. While Jim Carrey’s point about kowtowing to public pressure is worthy of discussion, the backlash to Sonic’s initial design was so universal and vociferous, it would have been ill advised to move forward with the original design when the film’s target fanbase actively hated it.

Following the $5 million redesign, there has been an outpouring of appreciation from Sonic fans, who feel like their voices have been heard and the corresponding interest in the film has went up. Director Jeff Fowler seems pretty grateful about the response, and while not technically intended as such, the redesign and fan reaction has been great press for Sonic the Hedgehog.

So whether the redesign ultimately turns Sonic the Hedgehog into a box office success or not, it seems to me like it was the smart gamble.

Sonic the Hedgehog races into theaters on February 14, 2020. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to see all the big movies coming next year.

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