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Sonic charging up

Slow and steady might win some races, but at the box office, it never hurts to get off to a fast start and if there’s any character that knows a thing or two about going fast, it’s Sonic. Paramount’s videogame adaptation Sonic the Hedgehog finally opened in theaters last night after a several month delay to accommodate a redesign of the titular speedster. So did the Sega icon come charging out of the gate or did he pull up lame?

Sonic the Hedgehog debuted in domestic theaters Thursday night with preview screenings beginning at 5 p.m. The film took in $3 million on opening night from 3,150 locations according to Deadline. It’s a solid start for director Jeff Fowler’s film ahead of its expansion into 4,130 locations over the long President’s Day holiday weekend.

Sonic the Hedgehog’s $3 million opening night draws some comps that we can look to in order to try and predict just how far the Blue Blur will go over the four-day weekend stretch. In February of last year, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World also opened to $3 million from Thursday preview showings, albeit ones that started later at 6 p.m. That threequel went on to make $55 million over its three-day opening weekend.

In February of 2017, Lego Batman had a $2.2 million opening night before a $53 million three-day opening weekend. On the lower end of things would be something like The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, which made $1.5 million in previews that started at 4 p.m. in advance of a $34.1 million three-day opening.

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As far as how high Sonic the Hedgehog will go, the tracking has put the Sega movie to open between $40 million and $47 million over the four-day weekend. Other estimates allow for more headroom on the top end with $50 million seemingly in play for the family film. And by most accounts Sonic the Hedgehog is very much a family film, a quality that may help it with some schools closed today and the majority of K-12 schools closed on Monday for the President’s Day holiday.

The four-day holiday weekend should help the box office overall following the disappointing debut of Birds of Prey last weekend. Sonic the Hedgehog will easily top that film and the weekend with a first place finish, leaving Harley Quinn and company to fight with the other new releases for second place.

As far as those other films are concerned, The Photograph held preview screenings starting at 7 p.m. in 2,250 theaters last night, earning $650K. That romance is expected to make $12.5-$15 million over Valentine’s Day weekend. The numbers are not in yet for the Will Ferrell/Julia Louis-Dreyfus movie Downhill, but that is only tracking to open between $3.75 million and $4.25 million.

The horror film Fantasy Island did not hold preview screenings on Thursday so audiences won’t get a look at that until today. Jeff Wadlow’s adaptation is tracking to open between $13 million and $15 million.

All in all it looks like Sonic the Hedgehog will lap the field this weekend. While we’ll never know how Sonic would have done had the film released in November with Sonic’s original design, what’s clear is that the narrative around this movie is far more positive than it once was.

Sonic the Hedgehog has received okay, better than expected reviews. The film currently sits at 65% on Rotten Tomatoes and exit scores out of opening night screenings were also strong, indicating a positive audience response and perhaps good word of mouth.

Sonic the Hedgehog is now playing. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to see what other movies you can look forward to this year.

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