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Sonic and Harley Quinn

After a delay of several months to accommodate a much-needed redesign of the titular character, Sonic the Hedgehog finally races into theaters this weekend. The Blue Blur is used to coming in first place but he will not be running unopposed in the race at the box office, he’ll be up against some other new releases, as well as a holdover in Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. So will Sonic the Hedgehog beat Birds of Prey at the box office this weekend?

Harley Quinn is going to need to strap some rocket boosters to her roller blades because there’s pretty much no way she’s catching Sonic. The adaptation of the iconic Sega mascot is tracking to open with $40 million to $45 million from 4,130 locations over the four-day President’s Day weekend according to Variety. Those figures should allow to Sonic the Hedgehog to easily cross the finish line first, well ahead of the competition.

A $40 to $45 million opening weekend is basically in line with the more recent tracking for Sonic the Hedgehog that had it pegged to debut with $41 million to $47 million. So that seems to be where things are trending, which is a much more positive outlook than this film previously had. Back at the beginning of the year, the long-range tracking for Sonic only anticipated a $20-$30 million four-day start.

If the box office shakes out this way, with Sonic the Hedgehog coming in first place, it will be an impressive win, but a predictable one given the performance of Birds of Prey. Cathy Yan’s DC film opened last weekend well below expectations to $33.2 million. This race might have been closer if these films came out the same weekend, but given Birds of Prey’s inevitable drop in its second frame, Sonic will be the clear winner.

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As for Birds of Prey, even second place is not guaranteed. Why it has underperformed is a topic for another time, but some exhibitors are trying to give it a boost with a name change. We’ll see how it goes. The R-rated DC flick could come up with $13 million to $16 million if it has a similar drop to predecessors Shazam! and Suicide Squad.

That would put Birds of Prey in direct contention with Blumhouse and Sony’s Fantasy Island. That PG-13 horror remake is expected to open between $13 million and $15 million. However, some tracking indicates it could go as high as $20 million over the four-day weekend.

This double holiday weekend ends with President’s Day on Monday, but starts with Valentine’s Day on Friday and there’s really only one new release directly targeting audiences looking for romance. That’s The Photograph starring Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield. That $16 million film is looking at a $12 million to $15 million opening weekend. Lastly is the Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus dramedy Downhill, which is tracking to open with $4 million.

So as you can see, it’s really looking like the real box office race over this long, holiday-filled four-day weekend is for second place. If all goes as expected Sonic the Hedgehog has first place in the bag.

Sonic wasn’t cheap with a budget of $87 million, so it will need to perform worldwide to make its money back, but given the sentiment surrounding the film after the first trailer came out, a first place $40+ million finish at the box office is looking better than we might have expected. We’ll see how well the goodwill towards Sonic's redesign goes this weekend. If nothing else, Sonic should benefit from pretty decent reviews.

Sonic the Hedgehog opens on February 14. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to see what other movies are headed to theaters this year.

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