‘Sonic 2’ To Sprint Past A Stalling ‘Ambulance’

'Sonic 2' To Sprint Past A Stalling 'Ambulance'

The pre-summer semi-blockbuster season is well underway, with the past two weekends being the first time in 2022 we have had two $30+ million (or even two $20+ million) openings in a row. This weekend will keep the streak going and up the stakes as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 races into 4,232 theaters and is set to become one of the year’s top openers yet. Add to that next weekend’s release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, which begins its international rollout this weekend, and it is clear we are in the midst of the strongest slate of films since last October.

The new sonic comes just over two years after the original Sonic the Hedgehog opened to $58 million in February 2020. Its $149 million domestic and $320 million worldwide finishes were pretty solid for the $85 million budgeted franchise starter, especially when you consider that the breakout of the Covid- 19 pandemic cut its run short. The film became the third biggest domestic grosser of 2020 and the highest grossing video game adaptation ever domestically, though Uncharted, currently at $139 million, may dethrone it in the coming weeks. Whether or not that happens, there’s a chance that sonic 2 jets not both of them.

Can sonic 2 sprint out the gate as fast as the first film? The studio thinks it will at least come close, and they’re predicting a $50+ million opening which would make it the second biggest of the year after The Batman. There’s certainly no doubt that sequels can match or top their pre-pandemic predecessors, and there should be pent up demand for a new family film. The last major kid-friendly release was Sing 2[/link]which opened in December and legged out well in the subsequent months. sonic 2 could be the go-to family film from now until mid-June’s release of Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear, with Dreamworks’ The Bad Guys (opening in two weeks) and Fox’s The Bob’s Burgers Movie (opening in late May) being less certain prospects.

sonic 2 has all of the key ingredients of the original. Director Jeff Fowler is back, as is the main cast, including James Marsden and jim carreymore Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic. Joining the voice cast are Colleen O’Shaughnessey as the furry sidekick Tails and Idris Elba as Sonic’s antagonist counterpart Knuckles. The critical response thus far (67% on Rotten Tomatoes) is a pinch ahead of the original, and this weekend will reveal if it can match the first film’s “A” CinemaScore. The film already released in around half of its markets overseas last weekend, grossing $29.8 million so far. On a like for like basis it is performing about the same as the original, and if it keeps it up it should pull ahead of the original’s final gross, which was blunted due to the pandemic.

Facing off with sonic is Universal’s Michael Bay directed action-thriller Ambulance, the first theatrical film for the director in five years. The story and title come from the 2005 Danish film, which was a more grounded drama that is being infused with plenty of Bayhem (explosions, cars flipping, etc). Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen IIand Eiza Gonzalez star in this chase movie in which an ambulance with an EMT inside is used as a getaway vehicle after a bank heist by two adopted brothers, one of whom just wants to pay for his wife’s surgery. The reviews are solid for Bay, with the 68% Rotten Tomatoes score being tied for his best with The Rock. Whether that audiences is another story, and expectations for the box office are modest. Traffic for the film is soft on IMDb, and it may end up being Bay’s lowest opener yet, falling under The Island’s $12.4 million.

Also going wide (1200 theaters) this weekend is Everything Everywhere All at Once, which opened in 10 theaters two weeks ago and expanded to 38 theaters last weekend. The A24 film earned a stellar $1.8 million so far, and its opening weekend had the best theater average of the year. The question is whether the excitement for the zany Michelle Yeoh starring multiverse action comedy, which received universal acclaim (97% on Rotten Tomatoes), can translate to a larger audience.

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