Before the world box office shut down as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sonic The Hedgehog made some ink by scoring the best opening weekend for a video game film ever. Which then posed the question: could this Paramount franchise starter pass the high water mark for worldwide grosses set last year by Pokemon: Detective Pikachu?
Well, that’s something we’re going to look at right now, as despite recent events delaying the film’s release in the crucial territory of China, there’s a case for that possibility becoming a reality. Before we start, keep in mind that this isn’t a measure of which film is more profitable, but rather which one has the most money on paper. With that caveat, let’s begin.
Starting on the domestic front, the tale of the tape between Sonic The Hedgehog and Pokemon: Detective Pikachu is pretty clear on where the blue speedster stands. With Sonic raking in roughly $146 million since its February 14th release, Pikachu’s $144.1 million has been edged out by a modest, but healthy margin.
Were traditional theatrical exhibitions still in play, and Sonic The Hedgehog’s current trend of weekend grosses roughly in line with what’s been seen in the past couple frames, things could have gotten interesting. Especially since there might have been some potential for the film to top the $150 million mark at home when all was said and done.
However, the greatest lost opportunity is represented in the international market, which is where the greater battle between Sonic and Pokemon: Detective Pikachu’s track records. Currently, Sonic The Hedgehog is sitting at $160.7 million with the worldwide market, which is nowhere near Pikachu’s roughly $289 million standings. And this is where the greatest blow to Sonic The Hedgehog’s chances come to fruition.
Despite holding off as long as it could, Paramount sadly had to cancel the Chinese release of the film, which could have proven to be a particularly gainful run. With $92.6 million coming in from China alone, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu proved that video game movies could rack up some killer numbers in the Middle Kingdom. But even if Sonic The Hedgehog matched those numbers, it’d still need $35.7 million more to at least match that performance.
So where does this leave us in the overall picture? Well, according to Box Office Mojo, Sonic The Hedgehog’s total worldwide portfolio stands at $306.6 million, with Pokemon: Detective Pikachu’s $433 million outpacing it in a manner that’s not insurmountable under normal circumstances. But, as we’ve seen during this recent health crisis, we’re in a far from normal series of events.
Could Sonic The Hedgehog pass Pokemon: Detective Pikachu at the box office? It depends on how you look at the situation, as in terms of domestic grosses, it’s already gotten the job done. But without a stronger international showing, as well as the lack of continued monies coming in with all major theater chains shuttered in the US, it doesn’t look likely.
Rather than being a victim of unrealistic ambitions, Sonic The Hedgehog merely looks to have lost this race due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But if the most aggressively optimistic outlooks pan out, and movie theaters are open again over the summer, who knows what could happen? For now, everyone’s concerns are obviously focused with beating back this horrific health crisis, but let’s hope it’s not looked upon as too crass for sparing a thought towards our little blue friend.
Sonic The Hedgehog has no current plans for theatrical or home distribution, but as soon as any details break on that front, you can be sure we’ll report those changes as they occur.