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Why Sonic Is Becoming A Live-Action Movie Franchise (But Not Pokémon)

Detective Pikachu and sonic the hedgehog were the first live action films of the Pokemon and Sonic franchises, respectively, and yet only the latter gets sequels and spinoffs. Sonic and Pikachu, two giants of the video game industry, have always seemed like difficult characters to adapt to live-action. Whereas Sonic and Pokemon have been successful in many different media, with Pokemon taking the lead in terms of the amount of animated series and movies, moving to live-action is something the story had already proven to be quite difficult.

Examples abound to show just how difficult live-action video game adaptations are. There are the famous disastrous cases like that of 1993 Super Mario Bros. or that of Jean Claude Van Dame street fighter, films still remembered today for their embarrassing attempts to adapt video game characters to the big screen. 1995 mortal combat showed that it was possible to make a pretty good movie despite changes to the source material, but Mortal Kombat: AnnihilationFailure set everything back. There have been strong movie franchises based on video games, such as grave robber and resident Evil, but not enough to redefine the genre. Even big budget movies like Warcraft struggled to get people into theaters, and many of today’s efforts to adapt video games have shifted to the TV format, which is why it’s taken so long for IPs like Sonic and Pokemon to get the live treatment.

Related: Why Sonic 3 Is Right Not To Recast Eggman (If Jim Carrey Really Retires)

Waiting for a live-action Pokemon The movie ended in 2019 in an unusual way. Rather than adapting the classic adventures of a Pokemon trainer like Red or Ash amid battles and tournaments, Warner Bros. and Legendary chose the not so famous Detective Pikachu game, in which a different Pikachu from the anime helps solve a mystery, adapt. Despite attempting a simpler story and a high-profile name like Ryan Reynolds in the cast, Detective Pikachu only succeeded at the box office, particularly domestically, and never had a sequel. Interestingly, the 2020s sonic the hedgehogwhose box office numbers didn’t differ that much from Detective Pikachugot a sequel in sonic the hedgehog 2 and will have a trilogy. The reasons for this difference between the two properties involve analyzing domestic box office numbers and not just global numbers, a metric in which Sonic did better, and each studio’s approach to their IP addresses.

How Much Detective Pikachu Did Compared To Sonic

Released in 2019 and with a budget of over $150 million, Detective Pikachu had a $54 million domestic opening weekend, topping the 2000s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider of 10 million to become the largest national opening for video game adaptation – at least until 2020. Detective Pikachu ended its theatrical run with $433 million worldwide, of which $144 million was claimed domestically and $289 million overseas. In comparison, the 2020s sonic the hedgehog opened with $58 million in the United States, making it the biggest opening weekend for a video game movie.

Throughout its theatrical release, which enjoyed strong reviews and fan goodwill following the studios’ decision to change Sonic’s design, sonic the hedgehog claimed $319.7 million at the box office. Of this total, $149 million was domestic and $170 million international. In other words, while sonic the hedgehog had a box office total of less than Detective Pikachuhe has done more in the United States than the Pokemon film.

How Much Sonic The Hedgehog 2 Has Made So Far

Continuing with what worked in the first film, like Jim Carrey as Eggman, while expanding the Sonic universe with characters like Knuckles and Tails, sonic the hedgehog 2 configure itself to be larger than its predecessor. The 2022 film opened with $71 million, setting a new record for video game adaptations. With a four-week/30-day theatrical run so far, sonic the hedgehog 2 made $349 million at the worldwide box office, of which $170 million was claimed domestically and $179 million overseas. Again, the Sonic deductible exceeded Detective Pikachubox office results in domestic terms, but it will not exceed the Pokemon film at the global box office.

Related: Chris Pratt’s Super Mario Movie Should Copy Sonic’s Best Villain Decision

Paramount has plans for a Sonic Cinematic Universe


Before the release of Sonic 2, Paramount had previously expressed interest in creating a cinematic universe centered around Sonic and other SEGA characters. With the success of Sonic 2 at the box office, those plans are now much closer to becoming a reality. In addition to Sonic 3, there will also be a Knuckles spin-off series for Paramount+. Idris Elba, who played Knuckles in sonic the hedgehog 2, is set to reprise his role. Given the number of supporters Sonic characters and all the possibilities that decades of gaming have to offer, the Knuckles spin-off could be the first of many similar Sonic projects.

Why Sonic Gets Sequels But Not Pokémon

Box Office Sonic 2 Video Game Adaptations

All these things taken into account, it is easier to understand why Sonic gets live action sequels but not Pokemon. More than the global box office, it’s often the domestic box office that decides whether a movie gets a sequel or not. On this metric, both sonic the hedgehog and sonic the hedgehog 2 did better than Detective Pikachu. That said, Detective PikachuThe box office was far from bad, especially globally, which points to other reasons for not getting a follow-up movie.

It is important to remember that Warner Bros., the studio behind Detective Pikachuhas many IP addresses, such as MonsterVerse, DC Universe and Harry Potter, and he can choose to focus on those whose success is guaranteed. Paramount, on the other hand, doesn’t have many options. The studio owns major film franchises such as Impossible mission and Transformersbut overall it doesn’t have as many franchise-potential IPs as Warner Bros.

Not only that, but Paramount is also trying to build a catalog of properties for its streaming platform, Paramount+, which currently has the video game adaptation as well. Halo and the star trek shows its jewels. In this scenario, the sonic the hedgehog franchise can be a valuable asset to the studio, both to theaters and to Paramount+, in a way that Detective Pikachyou and potential sequels wouldn’t necessarily be for Warner Bros. Pokemon is a massive IP that spells financial success, but, at least for now, it’s Sonic and his team of heroes, not Pikachu, who are poised to become live-action movie stars.

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