Paramount and Sega Sonic the Hedgehog 2 rocketed to a whopping $26.5 million on Friday, including $6.2 million in Thursday’s previews. The Jeff Fowler-directed sequel, starring James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, Jim Carrey, Idris Elba, Tika Sumpter and Colleen O’Shaughnessey, captured the second-biggest opening day of 2022 behind (understandably) The Batman‘s $57 million gross as of Friday. The first sound, which shattered records and expectations just a month before Covid effectively ended theatrical year 2020, made $19 million on its first Friday for a $58 million President’s Day weekend Friday-Sunday/70 million dollars from Friday to Monday. With decent reviews, an A from Cinemascore, popular IP, and a lack of kid-specific movies since singing 2 last christmas, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was expected to open with an opening weekend of $67 million to $73 million Friday through Sunday, breaking the three-day debut record for a video game film.
Audiences and critics liked the first one Sonic the Hedgehog, the IP was a true “audience wants to see a movie about this brand,” the movie played less like nostalgic fan bait and more like a quality kids movie, and the cast of Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik was a clever piece of multi-generational nostalgia. If you were old enough to be nostalgic Sonic the Hedgehogs In the games of the 1990s, you also had fond memories of Carrey’s first series of comic roles (Ace Ventura, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, Batman Forever and liar liar). This was more of the same thing, with Tails and Knuckles delivering value-added elements as a new friend and new villain along with game-specific story beats and character changes that still made the fun human characters (like Natasha Rothwell) have their moments shine.
It’s the second groundbreaking sequel of 2022, Paramount’s second to follow no less Scream (which in part alluded to 11 years of post-theatrical critical revisionism scream 4) in January. It is Paramount’s fourth consecutive box office hit Scream donkey forever and The Lost City. You now have my benefit of the doubt for Top Gun: Maverick. This is another example we’ve seen time and again since Paramount A Quiet Place Part II this past Memorial Day weekend that the films that were probably big opens pre-Covid and are still scoring accordingly during Covid. So if Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore opens noticeably softer than Grindelwald’s crimesand when disease suffers a massive slump on its second weekend, the fault is not in the pandemic but in the films themselves.
In sadder (but not surprising) news, Universal’s ambulance made just $3.2 million on his first Friday, including $700,000 in Thursday previews. That positions the R-rated action thriller, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Eiza Gonzalez, directed by Michael Bay, for a just $8.1 million opening weekend. Even with good reviews, an easy-to-explain high concept, a solid cast and a celebrity director, ambulance will need a miracle overseas to justify its $40 million production budget. As we’ve seen since 2016, audiences that once went to the cinema just to see a (non-tentpole) movie are staying at home with streaming instead. It was Michael Bay’s underperformance 13 hours (one year later American sniper) In January 2016, frankly, I realized for the first time that something had changed and the shift has only worsened during Covid.
The only situational explanation, aside from the “audiences now only show up for the big franchise and marquee character-specific movies” question, is this ambulance didn’t look very “funny”. It’s A) damn good and B) a little lighter than you might expect, but the (great) trailers understandably made it feel like a breathless and empathetically terrifying rollercoaster ride. I am reminded of widows, another great underperformer whose trailers were so intense they arguably hinted at a “bad time at the movies.” If that important fifth ingredient for theater professionals is the promise of “escapism,” well, that’s the difference between baby driver and widows or girl trip and hard night. Ironically, the only hope for movies of this nature at the cinema level is if ambulance becomes incredibly popular on PVOD or Peacock.
A24 expanded on the relentless multiverse fantasy of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert Everything everywhere at once in 1,250 cinemas with reasonably decent results. Acclaimed action comedy Michelle Yeoh/Ke Huy Quan/Stephanie Hsu/James Hong earned $2.157 million on Friday, setting the stage for a weekend of $5.6 million (+419%) and $8 million -dollars for 17 days. The film was limited in its last two frames, better for generating buzz and positive “Look at those per-theater averages!” coverage ahead of its nationwide expansion. The average per theater this weekend, $4,480, isn’t overwhelming, but it compares favorably The Green Knight ($6.7 million in 2,790 theaters last summer) and hints at a possible total of over $20 million. It’s too early to play the Oscars forecaster, but A24 at least has this lively gem in its back pocket for the year.