Sonic the Hedgehog is a 2020 American live-action animated film based on the Sonic video game franchise series published by Sega. It is written by Patrick Casey, Josh Miller and Oren Uziel from a story by Van Robichaux and Evan Susser, and directed by Jeff Fowler in his directoral debut. The film stars Ben Schwartz as Sonic the Hedgehog and Jim Carrey as Sonic's nemesis Dr. Ivo Robotnik, alongside James Marsden as Tom Wachowski, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, and Neal McDonough.
The film was released on February 14, 2020 by Paramount Pictures.
Sonic is an extraterrestrial blue hedgehog who can run at supersonic speeds. His caretaker, Longclaw the Owl, encourages him to hide his powers, but Sonic does not listen, resulting in a tribe of echidnas attempting to abduct him. Longclaw gives Sonic a bag of rings which open portals to other planets, using one to send him to Earth while she holds off the echidnas. Sonic spends the next ten years living in secret in the town of Green Hills, Montana. He idolizes the local sheriff, Tom Wachowski, and his veterinarian wife, Maddie. Tom has recently been hired by the San Francisco Police Department and is preparing to move.
Although he enjoys his life, Sonic longs for real friends. One night, he plays baseball by himself and, after realizing his loneliness, becomes upset and starts running around the field. The energy Sonic emits creates an electromagnetic pulse that knocks out power across the Pacific Northwest. The United States Department of Defense enlists roboticist and scientific genius Dr. Robotnik to help discover the cause of the outage. Robotnik discovers and tracks Sonic, who hides in the Wachowskis' shed. Just as he is opening a portal to escape through, Sonic is discovered and shot with a tranquilizer by Tom, causing him to drop his bag of rings through the portal, which leads to San Francisco. After Sonic awakens, Tom reluctantly agrees to help Sonic recover the rings. Robotnik invades the house, but Sonic and Tom escape. Robotnik comes across one of Sonic's quills and has Tom declared a domestic terrorist.
Tom and Sonic narrowly evade Robotnik and grow closer as they journey to San Francisco. Tom learns of Sonic's desire to make at least one real friend. Meanwhile, Robotnik slowly loses his sanity as his search for Sonic becomes more obsessive. Sonic disapproves of Tom's decision to leave Green Hills, arguing that he is leaving his true friends. Sonic is injured by one of Robotnik's drones shortly before the two arrive in San Francisco, where Tom is reunited with Maddie. Maddie helps revive Sonic, and the three travel to the Transamerica Pyramid, where Sonic's bag of rings landed. Robotnik and his robots attack them at the top, but Sonic uses the rings to teleport Tom and Maddie back to Green Hills before taking on Robotnik. Using the power of Sonic's quill, Robotnik achieves supersonic speed and pursues Sonic across the world.
Robotnik and Sonic's fight eventually makes it back to Green Hills, where Robotnik overpowers Sonic. However, Tom intervenes, and Sonic regains his strength after Tom refers to him as a friend. Sonic reclaims the energy that Robotnik is using. With help from Tom, Sonic uses a ring to send Robotnik to a planet made of mushrooms. With Robotnik defeated, Tom and Maddie decide to stay in Green Hills and let Sonic live in their house with them. The US government erases all evidence of the incident, including records of Robotnik's existence. However, Robotnik, still in possession of Sonic's quill, begins plotting his revenge.
In a mid-credits scene, Tails, a fox from Sonic's world, emerges from a ring portal in search of Sonic.
- Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic, an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog who can run at super-sonic speeds and is on the run from the government.
- James Marsden as Tom Wachowski, the newly appointed sheriff of Green Hills who befriends Sonic and aids him in his quest to stop Dr. Robotnik.
- Tika Sumpter as Mrs. Wachowski, Tom's wife.
- Jim Carrey as Dr. Ivo Robotnik, a brilliant but insane scientist and inventor plotting world domination who is Sonic's nemesis.
Additionally, Lee Majdoub appears as Stone, an agent who works closely for Dr. Robotnik. Frank C. Turner also appears as Crazy Carl. Adam Pally, Natasha Rothwell, Neal McDonough, Debs Howard and Elfina Luk have been cast in undisclosed roles.
Sony Pictures Entertainment originally acquired the rights to distribute a film based on Sonic the Hedgehog in 2013. On June 10, 2014, a live-action animated film based on Sonic the Hedgehog was announced as a joint venture between Sony Pictures and Marza Animation Planet. It would be produced by Neal H. Moritz by his Original Film banner alongside Takeshi Ito, Mie Onishi, and Toru Nakahara and written by Evan Susser and Van Robichaux. In February 2016, Sega CEO Hajime Satomi stated the film was scheduled for 2018. Blur Studio's Tim Miller and Jeff Fowler were hired in 2016 to develop the film; Fowler would make his directorial debut, and both Miller and Fowler would executive produce. Patrick Casey and Josh Miller were writing the screenplay.
On October 2, 2017, Paramount Pictures announced that they had acquired the rights after Sony Pictures' Columbia Pictures put the film into turnaround. However, most of the production team remained unchanged. In February 2018, it was announced that the movie would have a November 2019 release.
On May 29, 2018, it was reported that Paul Rudd was in talks for a lead role as Tom, "a cop who befriends Sonic and will likely team up to defeat Dr. Eggman," but was later denied. A day later, it was announced that James Marsden was cast in an undisclosed role, but later revealed to be Tom Wachowski. In June 2018, Tika Sumpter was cast in the role of the wife of Tom Wachowski. Jim Carrey was cast to play the villain, Dr. Robotnik. In August 2018, Ben Schwartz joined the cast of the film voicing the titular character. A few days later, Adam Pally and Neal McDonough were cast. Debs Howard and Elfina Luk already joined the cast.
Principal photography took place from July 30, 2018 and ended in Vancouver, British Columbia, Ladysmith and Vancouver Island on October 16, 2018. Post-production began and ended in October in New York, where Jim Carrey shot his scenes.
Visual effects and design
The visual effects are provided by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Blur Studio, Digital Domain and the Moving Picture Company (MPC). The production team created a realistic version of Sonic, adding fur, new running shoes, two separate eyes, and a more human-like physique. They used Ted, the living teddy bear from the Ted films, as a reference to insert a CG character into a real-world setting. Executive producer Tim Miller said: "It would be weird and it would feel like he was running around nude if he was some sort of otter-like thing. It was always, for us, fur, and we never considered anything different. It's part of what integrates him into the real world and makes him a real creature." According to Miller, Sega was not "entirely happy" with the design of Sonic's eyes. Its humanoid appearance has been described as evoking an uncanny valley-type of revulsive response by viewers.
On May 2, 2019, two days after the trailer's release, Fowler announced on Twitter that Sonic would be redesigned before the film's release in response to the audience backlash against the design in the first trailer, as well as to the fan edits that were much more well-received. The film's November release date originally remained unchanged, prompting concerns that a design overhaul of the main character would cause the visual effects teams to be overworked, but on May 24, 2019, Fowler announced on Twitter that the film was pushed back to February 14, 2020.
Test footage was screened at the Comic Con Experience in Brazil on December 6, 2018. It was followed by a teaser poster released on December 10, 2018, revealing the silhouette design of Sonic, with the tagline "A Whole New Speed of Hero". It received a negative response from critics and fans, and was compared unfavorably to another 2019 video game film adaptation, Detective Pikachu, which added fur and skin textures to the Pokémon characters. Sonic's humanoid appearance was described as evoking an uncanny valley response. Former members of Sonic Team, who created the Sonic the Hedgehog games, also expressed surprise. A second poster was leaked online shortly after. Fans complained of a lack of resemblance to the games and criticized the positioning of Sonic's legs, spawning an Internet meme in which users recreated the position. The film's official Twitter account posted an image of Sonic behind a sign reading: "Can't a guy work out?" Images of the Sonic design were leaked in March 2019 to more fan criticism. Sonic co-creator Yuji Naka was "shocked" by the design and felt the ratio of Sonic's head and abdomen was imbalanced.
The first trailer premiered on April 4, 2019, at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, and was released online on April 30. It received near-unanimous criticism, with Gita Jackson of Kotaku calling it "horrific" and "a blight upon this weary earth". Sonic's design was heavily criticized by fans for its humanoid appearance, while some found the use of Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" jarring. Conversely, CNET's Sean Keane praised the humor and references to the games. Within two days, the trailer was viewed more than 20 million times on YouTube, and had received hundreds of thousands of "dislike" ratings, drastically outnumbering the "like" ratings.
A second trailer revealing the redesigned Sonic was released on November 12, 2019. The trailer received far more positive responses, with many praising Sonic's new design. The tone and the humor also received positive reviews, as did the choice of song, J. J. Fad's "Supersonic". Naka said he felt the new design was "much more Sonic-like". The second trailer received thousands of likes and the highest like-to-dislike ratio of any trailer on Google in the last three years. The trailers have garnered a total of more than 500 million views worldwide. As a promotional tie-in, the version of Sonic seen in the film was added as a playable character to the mobile games Sonic Dash and Sonic Forces.
In February 2019, Tom Holkenborg, who previously worked with executive producer Miller on Deadpool, was hired to compose the score. The soundtrack was released alongside the film on February 14, 2020 in both digital and physical formats. Riff Raff, who had a role in the film but was cut, appears on the soundtrack. An original song, "Speed Me Up" by Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla Sign, Lil Yachty, and Sueco the Child, appears on the soundtrack, the single was released on January 24, 2020 by Atlantic Records. "Speed Me Up" received 15 million streams, along with 1.8 billion views for the "Speed Me Up" TikTok challenge. "Friends" by Hyper Potions, which previously appeared as the opening theme of Sonic Mania, also appears, along with arrangements of tracks from Masato Nakamura's score for the original Sonic the Hedgehog (1991). Holkenborg attempted to capture the feel of Nakamura's soundtracks for the Sonic and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992) games, using Yamaha digital FM synthesizers (such as the DX7) similar to the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive console's Yamaha YM2612 sound chip.
Sonic the Hedgehog was initially scheduled for 2018 by Columbia Pictures; however in February 2018, Paramount Pictures rescheduled it to November 15, 2019. The film was later moved up a week earlier to November 8, 2019. In May 2019, director Jeff Fowler announced that the film would again be delayed, this time to February 14, 2020, in order to "make Sonic just right" following announcement of the character's redesign.
This was released on DVD and Blu-ray, 4K UHD by Paramount Home Entertainment in May 19, 2020 widescreen and full frame double sided disc DVD.
Sonic the Hedgehog grossed $149 million in the United States and Canada, and $170.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $319.7 million. It was the sixth-highest-grossing film of 2020, and the highest-grossing superhero film of the year, ending Marvel Studios' decade-long run of having the highest-grossing film of the genre (from 2010 to 2019). The film's budget was estimated at being between $85 million and $90 million.
In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Fantasy Island, The Photograph, and Downhill, and was initially projected to gross $40–50 million from 4,130 theaters in its four-day President's Day opening weekend. After making $21 million on its first day (including $3 million from Thursday night previews), estimates were raised to $64 million. It went on to top the box office with a $58 million debut over the three-day weekend, and $70 million over the four, breaking Detective Pikachu's record for the biggest opening weekend by a video game-based film. It was also the fourth-best President's Day holiday weekend and Jim Carrey's second biggest opening weekend, behind Bruce Almighty (2003). The success was attributed in part to the redesign of Sonic and the publicity it created, and the delayed release date, which meant it opened with less competition from other family films. In its second weekend, Sonic the Hedgehog made $26.2 million and retained the top spot at the box office, bringing its ten-day domestic gross to $106.6 million. Sonic the Hedgehog made $16.3 million in its third weekend and was dethroned by newcomer The Invisible Man. On March 14, 2020, it became the highest-grossing film based on a video game in US box office history, surpassing Detective Pikachu.
Sonic the Hedgehog was released in 40 countries during its three-day opening weekend, topping the international box office with $43 million. Its strongest international regions were Latin America and Europe, with its largest openings being $6.7 million in Mexico, $6.2 million in the United Kingdom, $4.3 million in France, $3.3 million in Germany, and $3 million in Brazil. Worldwide, it made $101 million over the three-day weekend and $113 million over the four days. In its second weekend the film again topped the international box office with $38.3 million from 56 countries for a ten-day overseas gross of $96.5 million, and topped the global box office again with $64.6 million for a ten-day worldwide gross of $203.1 million. Its largest international markets in its first ten days were the United Kingdom ($19.1 million), Mexico ($12.3 million), and France ($9.1 million), retaining the top spot in these markets. The film opened in 16 new markets, led by a number-one debut in Russia ($6.3 million). The film was released in Japan on June 26, 2020 after being postponed from a previous March release due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and debuted at No. 6 that weekend. In China, the release was also postponed due to the pandemic, eventually receiving a July 31 date and underperforming at the Chinese box office due to new pandemic-related theatre policies there.
Sonic the Hedgehog received mixed to positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, The film has a score of 63% based on 230 reviews with an average score of 5.79/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Fittingly fleet and frequently fun, Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game inspired adventure the whole family can enjoy and a fine excuse for Jim Carrey to tap into the manic energy that launched his career." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 47 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, and PostTrak reported it received an average 4 out of 5 stars, with 70% of viewers they surveyed saying they would definitely recommend it.
Akeem Lawanson of IGN gave the film a score of 7 out of 10, praising the performances and the nostalgia, stating, "While this family-friendly action-comedy suffers from a simplistic story and leans too heavily on tired visual clichés, Sonic the Hedgehog is nevertheless boosted by solid performances from Ben Schwartz as Sonic and Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. Their ongoing cat-and-mouse game is entertaining, and passionate fans of the Sega franchise should appreciate all the nods to Sonic's history." Dami Lee of The Verge gave the film a positive review, praising the nostalgic elements seen in the film, writing that it "shines when it remembers it's based on a video game, and there's some genuinely fun stuff—like when Sonic uses his time-stopping powers or Robotnik's elaborate 'evil-plotting' montage that makes you wonder why more movies don't feature bad guys with choreographed dance sequences. Carrey plays up Robotnik as the cartoon villain he is, and it's a true delight to watch him in his element." Corey Plante of Inverse called it a "road trip superhero movie" and "the best superhero movie of 2020" so far. John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter, gave the film a positive review, saying: "Flesh-and-blood actors help keep this game derived kids' flick afloat."
Gene Park of The Washington Post gave the film a positive review, saying, "The Sonic the Hedgehog film is the furthest thing from Cats, despite the early comparisons. Wary fans expecting the usual easy target to mock will instead find something to fervently celebrate for years." Amon Warrman of Empire gave the film two out of five stars, writing, "An on-form Jim Carrey can't stop Sonic's live-action debut from feeling like a missed opportunity. If the teased sequels do materialize, here's hoping the storytelling levels up." Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times gave the film a negative review and wrote, "Sonic now resembles a cartoon hedgehog instead of a spray-painted marmot. But if anything was done to de-genericize the script, it hasn't helped. Not that the Sega games—in which the fleet-footed hero zips around doing flips and collecting gold coins (which here encircle the Paramount mountain) gave the director, Jeff Fowler, much to work with."
Variety's Owen Gleiberman criticized the tone: "For all the borderline tedium I felt at Sonic the Hedgehog, I do realize that this is a picture made for 8-year-olds. And they'll probably like it just fine. Yet I would also call the overly kiddified tone of the movie a mistake." Writing for The Guardian, Steve Rose gave the film two out of five, saying elements were "clearly indebted" to other films, such as Quicksilver's powers in the X-Men movies, and finding the message of friendship "trite and familiar". Simon Abrams of RogerEbert.com gave the film one out of four, writing, "Sonic the Hedgehog is only as successful as the amount of time you want to spend watching its animated protagonist go on instantly forgettable adventures, and boy, is that unfortunate."
|2020||SXSW Film Festival||Excellence in Title Design||Sonic the Hedgehog||Nominated|
|People's Choice Awards||The Family Movie of 2020||Nominated|
|2021||Critics' Choice Super Awards||Best Superhero Movie||Nominated|
|Best Villain in a Movie||Jim Carrey||Won|
|Best Actor in a Superhero Movie||Ben Schwartz and Jim Carrey||Nominated|
|Hawaii Film Critics Society||Best Visual Effects||Sonic the Hedgehog||Nominated|
|Hollywood Critics Association Awards||Best Animated or VFX Performance||Ben Schwartz||Won|
|Best Blockbuster||Sonic the Hedgehog||Nominated|
|Best Visual Effects||Ged Wright||Nominated|
|Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Movie||Sonic the Hedgehog||Nominated|
|Favorite Movie Actor||Jim Carrey||Nominated|
|Ursa Major Awards||Best Motion Picture||Sonic the Hedgehog||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Film Release||Pending|
- Jim Carrey has remarked that "very little of the dialogue from the pages of the script ended up in the movie". He also was given a lot of freedom for his non-verbal scenes, receiving basic instructions like "Here's the room and this is the music, just do something to go with it".
- There is a Chaos Emerald drawn on Sonic's map. Many Sonic games revolve around Sonic collecting the seven Chaos Emeralds.
- Crazy Carl, the local who's hunting Sonic in Green Hills, shows off a wildly inaccurate drawing of Sonic as a description. This is a reference to Sanic, a poorly-drawn portrayal of Sonic.
- The German release of this film caused an outcry among Sonic fans, when the YouTuber Julien Bam was cast as the dubbing voice of the title character, despite not having any experience.
- Sonic's sneakers have a Puma tab. They were based on Women's Dare Mesh Sneakers made by Puma.
- Tom Holland, Josh Gad, Chris Pratt, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, Will Forte, Jim Parsons, and Paul Rudd were all considered for the voice of Sonic.
- One of the co-writers for the film, Van Robichaux, wanted to go for a PG-13 rating.
On March 2021, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (Emerald Hill scene) and Hawaii, USA and Wendover, Utah, USA and Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, USA and Salt Lake City, Utah, USA and Toronto, Ontario, Canada ended in May 2021. This upcoming film Sonic the Hedgehog 2 2022.
- Main article: Sonic the Hedgehog/Gallery