Sonic 2 booms to US$71m at US box office while Michael Bay’s Ambulance stalls

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 powered to US$71 million in its North American box office debut, a hopeful indication that family audiences are feeling better about returning to theatre.

In taking the No 1 spot, Paramount’s kid friendly film towered over Sony’s Marvel adaptation Morbius and Universal’s Michael Bay action-adventure Ambulance, which debuted to a disappointing US$8 million.

Ticket sales for Sonic The Hedgehog 2 set a new high watermark for video game adaptations, supplanting the opening weekend record established by its predecessor, 2020’s Sonic The Hedgehog. The first movie collected US$58 million in its first three days of release and ended the President’s Day holiday weekend with a mighty $70 million.

“This is an outstanding opening,” says David A Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “With solid reviews and very good audience scores, Sonic is going to have a strong run.”

Jeff Fowler returned to direct Sonic The Hedgehog 2 after steering the original film to US$319 million globally and setting a record for the highest-grossing video game adaptation in North America. Ben Schwartz returned to voice the speedy blue creature with a knack for busting bad guys and Jim Carrey reprised his role as mad scientist Doctor Robotnik, a combo that has proven to be a hit among moviegoers. Sonic 2 landed an “A” CinemaScore from audiences.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 cost US$90 million, far more than the US$40 million that Bay and Universal shelled out for Ambulance. That’s a relatively cheap price tag for Ambulance, which is heavy in explosives and special effects. However, the US$40 million figure does not include the many millions spent on marketing and other efforts necessary to spread the word about the movie’s release.

The lacklustre start for Ambulance is yet another sign of consumer’s changing tastes. The kind of adrenalised, physics-defying mojo that turned Bay’s past films like Armageddon and Pearl Harbor into zeitgeist-y hits don’t always work these days. In the current movie theatre environment, fewer genres seem to be resonating with ticket buyers.

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