It was dog versus hedgehog this weekend at the box office, but “Sonic: The Hedgehog” slipped by “The Call of the Wild” for the top spot. The little blue ball of speed may have started out as a joke last year, but it’s having the last laugh with ticket sales.
“Sonic: The Hedgehog” zoomed to the top of the box office with a take of $26.3 million in its second weekend while audiences ignored critics and heeded “The Call of the Wild” as the Harrison Ford CGI dog flick finished a close second with $24.8 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
It was a strong weekend for both films, with each outperforming expectations and overcoming early doubts about design problems.
Paramount Pictures’ Sega video game adaptation “Sonic the Hedgehog” was a laughingstock when its first trailer was released last year, but after a delay and a title-character makeover, the film has now spent two weeks atop the box office and brought in over $200 million globally.
20th Century Studios’ “The Call of the Wild” was also mocked by many on social media for its CGI dog — the first five film adaptations of Jack London’s 1903 novel all used real ones — and reviews were decidedly mixed with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 62 percent, but moviegoers bought into the digital dog and his 77-year-old co-star, who would have won the weekend were it not for a late surge from “Sonic.”
“For ‘Call of the Wild’ heading into weekend the estimates were all over the place, as low as 10 million for the weekend, some saying it could do 15, maybe 20,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “So like ‘Sonic’ it over-performed.”
The only problem for “The Call of the Wild” is that it is a long way from recouping it’s reported $135 million budget, and that doesn’t include marketing costs which takes it into the $200 million range. For those seeing the film, you may wonder where that $135 million. Simple, it was mostly with CGI technology. It seems odd that a film about dogs would not have used real dogs, but that’s Hollywood for you. This is basically a mid-budget film which normally goes for $40-60 million.
Many will remember that years we heard about Martin Scorsese using the digital de-aging process on “The Irishman” which sent that budget into hyperspace. That film budget wound up being reported at $165 million but sources say it’s also in the $200 million range.
In a very distant third with $7 million was “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” in its third week.
The weekend’s other wide release, “Brahms: The Boy II” starring Katie Holmes. Its weak opening brought in an estimated $5.9 million in domestic sales, placing the movie in competition with Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life,” which is comparatively ancient (this was its sixth weekend in theaters) but also managed around $5.9 million. Final counts on Monday will determine which landed in fourth and which placed fifth.
That was a disappointing opening at a time of year when horror films often do well. 2020 appears to be bucking that trend with family films thriving in the early weeks of the year.
“‘Sonic’ and ‘Call of the Wild’ represent two PG-rated movies where that void in the marketplace for families is the key to their success in this part of the year, a time that’s usually dominated by awards holdovers and R-rated films,” Dergarabedian said.
And those family audiences may be why critics didn’t matter for the top two films.
“PG-rated films are more immune to reviews and are more about the audience. If a kid wants to go see a film, they’re going to go see it” he said.
Best picture winner “Parasite” continued its post-Oscars surge in a week where its victory was mocked at a rally by President Donald Trump, bringing in $3.2 million in North America, where it has earned nearly $50 million.
At the specialty box office, Focus Features’ Jane Austen adaptation “Emma” pocketed $230,000 from five venues, averaging $46,000 from each location. The studio is bringing the film to 100 screens next weekend.
“‘Emma’ made its perfect match with audiences this weekend,” said Focus distribution president Lisa Bunnell. “Audiences have not only been charmed by Jane Austen’s classic story, but are entertained by its new humor told through the incredible cast of Anya Taylor-Joy, Bill Nighy, Johnny Flynn, and the film’s brilliant director Autumn de Wilde.”
Amazon’s “Seberg” also opened in limited release and collected $60,487 from three theaters, averaging $20,162 per location. Kristen Stewart stars in the political thriller as actress Jean Seberg, who finds herself the target of an FBI surveillance program due to her associations with activist Hakim Jamal. The movie got mostly negative reviews, but Stewart received praise for her performance. Amazon is expanding the film — directed by Benedict Andrews and also starring Margaret Qualley and Zazie Beetz — to 300 venues next weekend.
Overall, box office ticket sales are up 5.9% from last year, according to Comscore. Over the coming weeks, Universal’s horror thriller “The Invisible Man” and Disney-Pixar’s family film “Onward” are expected to generate notable business.
North American Box Office
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included.
1. “Sonic the Hedgehog,” 26.3 million, ($38.3 million international).
2. “The Call of the Wild,” $24.8 million, (15.4 million international).
3. “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey,” $7 million, (10 million international).
4. “Brahms: The Boy II,” $5.9 million, ($2.2 million international).
5. “Bad Boys for Life,” $5.86 million, ($8.1 million international).
6. “1917,” $4.4 million, ($9.4 million international).
7. “Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island,” $4.2 million, ($3.9 million international).
8. “Parasite,” $3.1 million, ($8.9 million international).
9. “Jumanji: The Next Level,” $3 million, ($1.3 million international).
10. “The Photograph,” $2.8 million.