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Why The Sonic the Hedgehog Movies Got SEGA’s Approval

With both films turning out to be successes, SEGA senior executive officer Toru Nakahama explains why the Sonic the Hedgehog movies got the greenlight from the publisher. Based on the platformer of the same name, the films have centered on the titular protagonist as he makes his way to Earth and must use his super-speed and electrical abilities to stop the evil Doctor Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik in his quest to take over the world. Ben Schwartz has led the cast of both Sonic the Hedgehog movies as the beloved speedster alongside Jim Carrey as Eggman, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Lee Madjoub, Natasha Rothwell and Adam Pally.

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Launching with the eponymous 2020 movie, the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise has enjoyed generally favorable reviews across its two films, with critics praising the visual effects, light-hearted tone, action sequences and performances from its cast, namely Schwartz and Carrey. With both films also proving to be box office successes, Paramount Pictures has plans to expand the franchise in a number of directions, including a planned Sonic the Hedgehog 3 in December 2024 and a spin-off Knuckles the Echidna series for Idris Elba’s newer character. As audiences look forward to more of Sonic the Hedgehog on their big and small screens, one executive is sharing how the film came to be in the first place.

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In a recent interview with Pia, translated by Nintendo Everything, SEGA senior executive Toru Nakahama looked back on the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise’s legacy. When looking at the recently successful films, the publisher exec opened up about why SEGA greenlit the Sonic the Hedgehog movies, pointing to one key game for helping revitalize the brand with Western audiences. See what Nakahama explained below:

We had talks about making a Sonic movie because of Sonic Mania in 2017. Despite Sonic not being initially overly popular in America, he seemed to have rapidly gained popularity. At the time, Sonic was in an odd situation where parents were well aware of who he is, whereas children may or may not know him. So it was easy to imagine that if a Sonic movie came out, this would be a great opportunity for Sonic not only to be known to many generations, but also to areas where Sonic may have never been well known especially considering that movie promotion budget far exceeds that of a video game. I thought it was worth joining in to invest in creating a ‘Hollywood blockbuster.’ I can remember initially hearing comments such as ‘So many game-based movies have flopped,’ and ‘Isn’t he caught in some sort of scam?’. However, with SEGA Sammy Holdings starting, the spirit of taking on new challenges aligned very well with the movie production. It reminded me of the SEGA spirit of ‘trying new things.’

How Sonic the Hedgehog Broke The Video Game Movie Curse

As Nakahama indicates, the Sonic the Hedgehog game franchise was in a questionable spot just prior to the film’s development, with most games scoring mixed to negative reviews from critics and games alike until Sonic Mania, which became the highest-rated game for the series in 15 years. Having sold over 1 million copies within a year of its release, many praised the title as a return fo form for the franchise, even if it wasn’t directly made by the Sonic Team, but rather fans eager to see it reach the same heights it enjoyed in its early days. Given the game’s success, it’s understandable SEGA would feel confident in greenlighting a film adaptation of Sonic the Hedgehog, namely as other such game adaptations as Detective Pikachu was seeing critical and commercial success.

Unlike many of its predecessors, the Sonic the Hedgehog movies have proven to be the key to breaking the video game movie curse, with both not only scoring solid reviews, but Sonic the Hedgehog 2 even outperforming its predecessor at the box office and in reception. Though the Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil franchises have been given sequel orders, the adaptations of SEGA’s long-running platformer look to be the biggest yet in avoiding the video game curse of alienating audiences and suffering from diminishing returns. While audiences await details on the next installments, they can catch up on the first two Sonic the Hedgehog movies streaming on Paramount+ now.

Next: Why Sonic Is Becoming A Live-Action Movie Franchise (But Not Pokémon)Source: Pia (via Nintendo Everything)


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