Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is set to break the opening weekend record for video game adaptations set by its 2020 predecessor, earning $26.5 million on opening day from 4,234 theaters to set up a $67 million-plus opening.
By comparison, the first “Sonic” opened to $58 million and grossed $319 million worldwide before the pandemic cut its theatrical run short. “Sonic 2” should blow past that mark, as families and gamers have given it glowing audience acclaim with an A on CinemaScore and 98% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes to go with a 68% critics score.
While we won’t know until Sunday how the demographics break down, this result should be encouraging for both studios and theaters given that “Sonic 2” is the first family film to hit theaters since “Sing 2” back on Christmas week. Theaters went through all of Q1 without any films to lure in kids after Disney moved Pixar’s “Turning Red” from theaters to Disney+, where it became the streamer’s highest watched film on opening weekend.
This sequel should continue to perform well over the next two weeks with kids out of school on Easter break; and while it will get competition in its third weekend in the form of Universal/DreamWorks’ “The Bad Guys,” theaters will welcome more family fare after being deprived of it for nearly four months, hoping that it will encourage families to get back in the habit of moviegoing even as the BA.2 COVID-19 subvariant continues to spread in the US.
Unfortunately, “Sonic 2” is the only film having a good time this weekend. Universal’s “Ambulance“ is opening below tracking with $3.2 million grossed on opening day and an estimated opening of just $8 million. Not only is that below tracking for a $10 million start for this $40 million thriller, it would also be the lowest opening for a film directed by Michael Bay, slipping beneath the $12.4 million grossed by “The Island” in 2005.
This is in spite of strong reception for Bay’s latest thriller about a bank heist gone horribly wrong, with an A- on CinemaScore and Rotten Tomatoes scores of 69% critics and 89% audience. While that word-of-mouth could help turnout amongst younger male moviegoers, it is possible that “Sonic 2” is peeling off some of that core demographic.
Sony/Marvel’s “Morbius” is also taking a steep 74% drop from its $39 million opening last weekend amidst scathing reviews and tepid audience reception. The comic book adaptation made $2.9 million on its second Friday and is estimated to earn just $10 million to take the No. 2 spot this weekend and bring its 10-day total to $56.8 million.
Among holdovers, Paramount’s “The Lost City” is in between “Morbius” and “Ambulance” on the charts with an estimated $9.25 million grossed in its third weekend, giving it a domestic total of just under $70 million. Warner Bros.’ “The Batman” completes the top 5 with $6.4 million grossed in its sixth weekend and a domestic total of $358 million.