This weekend sees the release of Sonic The Hedgehog and Paramount is surely hoping they have a hit on their hands. 2019 didn’t end well for the studio after Terminator: Dark Fate and Gemini Man failed to connect with audiences despite carrying hefty budgets ($185 million and $138 million, respectively) and they really need a big winner.
2020 didn’t get off to a great start, either, with The Rhythm Section possibly competing with Dolittle for the biggest flop of the year. And it’s only February. The Blake Lively action movie cost a reported $50 million (insane!) and has earned a paltry $5 million after two weeks.
But Sonic has a lot going for it. The advertising is catering to both kids and the parents who grew up with the Sega video game and after the success of last year’s Detective Pikachu ($433 million worldwide), Paramount is now banking on a similar return for their property.
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Perhaps the key factor here though is that the film wasn’t as expensive as you might think. Despite the main character being completely CGI, the budget for the movie is reportedly only $85 million. Compare that to Pikachu ($150 million) and the risk is far less. And that’s even after the fan outrage over the initial look of Sonic forced Paramount to alter the character’s design. The cost for the changes was no more than $5 million though, despite taking five months to complete.
Unlike Disney or Sony, however, Paramount no longer has a superhero franchise to rely on as a safe bet. You could argue that the most lucrative entity at the studio right now is Tom Cruise and while the Mission: Impossible franchise is as big as ever, the next sequel won’t arrive until next summer.
They do have another Cruise franchise in Top Gun returning this year and are expecting A Quiet Place: Part II, which releases in March, to be another money-maker in 2020. But based on the relatively low margin for error on Sonic The Hedgehog, they’re no doubt hoping for it to be a hit.