So sayeth Paramount, Jeff Fowler’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has passed $400 million at the global box office. This includes $190.563 million in North America and $209.451 million overseas for the $110 million Sega video game adaptation. The domestic total is over $40 million more than the nearest video game-based competitor, the $146 million Uncharted ($402 million global) and the $148 million Sonic the Hedgehog ($320 million worldwide). Heck, even when adjusted for inflation, that $190.6 million gross is behind only Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider ($131 million in 2001/$212 million adjusted) among video game flicks. And yeah, the film earned $80 million more than its 2020 predecessor globally while earning reviews and buzz both comparable to the first film and leaving fans genuinely excited for what a threequel might hold.
“With Sonic the Hedgehog 2, our filmmakers and producing partners delivered the high-quality theatrical experience that the whole family had been waiting for, and we are thrilled with the enthusiastic global response to the characters and world we have created out of the beloved Sonic IP,” said Marc Weinstock, President, Worldwide Marketing & Distribution, Paramount Pictures.
I might not say that the credit-cookie reveal of “Shadow the Hedgehog” is on par with Batman turning over a Joker card at the end of Batman Begins, but my son might disagree with that assessment. The film retained its predecessor’s gee-whiz sensibility, existing as a high-quality kid-targeted adventure fantasy first and a nostalgic IP adaptation second. That the film included a lengthy comic subplot for Natasha Rothwell’s Rachel, one that briefly allowed Rachel and her sister (Tika Sumpter) to team up and outwit the bumbling cops, shows that all parties understood why the first picture worked. It wasn’t just a generic notion of a Sonic movie, but specific elements in the particular films (including Jim Carrey going full-Cable Guy as Doctor Robotnik) that provided entertainment for fans and general audiences alike.
Anyway, this marks the eighth film (including China’s Battle at Lake Changjin 2) to pass $400 million worldwide and Paramount’s second such title alongside Top Gun: Maverick ($480 million domestic and around $912 million (just past China’s $911 million-grossing Korean war epic). It is the 23rd such film since Covid began to hit that milestone, joining the two Battle at Lake Changjin films, Japan’s Demon Slayer the Movie, China’s Hi, Mom, Detective Chinatown 3, The Eight Hundred and My People My Homeland. Among Hollywood flicks, it joins WB’s Godzilla Vs. Kong, Dune, The Batman and Fantastic Beasts 3, Sony’s Venom 2, Spider-Man: No Way Home and Uncharted, Disney’s Shang-Chi, Eternals and Doctor Strange 2, Universal’s F9, No Time to Die, Sing 2 and Jurassic World 3 and Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick.
“This milestone demonstrates that audiences are hungry for great family entertainment, and that when we deliver on world-class, enduring franchises, crowds deliver in theatres. We can’t wait to expand the Sonic universe further and bring more exciting stories to fans with the next film installment and the upcoming Paramount+ series.” said Daria Cercek, Co-President, Paramount Motion Picture Group.
That list (the non-Chinese titles) includes two animated films, six comic book superhero movies, three fantasy sequels, one fantasy newbie and four “non-fantasy” action movies. Disney’s Covid-era success has been entirely predicated upon MCU movies, which is a conversation for another post, but the 16 Hollywood films are divided between the five major studios. And, yeah, if we count 20th Century as its own studio, then Avatar: The Way of Water will make it six before the year is over. Lionsgate is mostly taking the year off. Fingers crossed that John Wick 4 becomes their first non-Hunger Games/Twilight $400 million grosser next year.
For a sub-genre that’s allegedly been “cursed” for 29 years, we have two video game-based movies ranking among the year’s biggest. Sonic 2 joins Tom Holland’s Uncharted ($402 million), Rampage ($430 million), Detective Pikachu ($430 million) and Warcraft ($438 million) among the biggest-grossing video game movies ever, even if Detective Pikachu may be a one-and-done and Warcraft (which cost $165 million and earned half of its money from China amid a very frontloaded run). Uncharted will likely get a sequel, and Sonic 3 has to be pretty high on Paramount’s priorities list, although Dwayne Johnson’s giant animal monster mash (still my pick for the best video game movie ever) was seemingly envisioned as a one-and-done. We’ll see if Illumination’s animated Super Mario Bros. can become the first to crack $450 million early next year.