Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
On April 30, the first official trailer dropped for “Sonic The Hedgehog,” a feature film starring SEGA’s speedy blue star. Sonic is a mascot character beloved by many. Created by SEGA in 1991 as an effort to rival Nintendo’s wildly popular mascot Mario, Sonic soon blasted into the video game market. It was clear SEGA had struck gold and Sonic starred in his own series of games, numerous spinoffs and even alongside rival Mario in several sports games.
A company with a character this well-known would want to bank on its success as much as possible. Sonic branched into television, airing seven different shows from 1993-2017. As with many entertainment companies, SEGA made the decision to branch out into film and so preparations for a Sonic movie began. A teaser poster for the film was released in early December 2018.
Sonic’s cinematic redesign drew criticism from fans and critics and former Sonic designers were surprised at his new design.
Fans had nothing but criticism for the furry blue hedgehog’s bizarre anatomy and uncanny facial CGI, with particular emphasis on the design choice to give him human teeth. Many people on social media pointed to the recently released “Detective Pikachu,” praising the movie’s use of CGI compared to “Sonic The Hedgehog.”
People took to Twitter to post their own redesigns of the live-action character’s unnerving face and joking edits superimposing other character’s faces onto him.
The movie’s design team finally received the massive criticism and on May 2, director Jeff Fowler tweeted, “Thank you for the support. And the criticism. The message is loud and clear…you aren’t happy with the design and you want changes. It’s going to happen. Everyone at Paramount and SEGA are committed to making this character the BEST he can be.”
While fans are happy that the studio is listening and open to change, the movie’s rapidly approaching November release date and already fairly large estimated $90 million movie budget means that any significant changes to the CGI animation may prove to be extremely costly. Resdesigning key aspects of the character and then inserting the redesigned character into the already completed film will take ample time and processing power.
Even if changes made to the movie are not as significant as fans would care for, the case of “Sonic the Hedgehog” should be celebrated as a studio willing to listen and rectify based on fan criticism.
“This type of organic social media-based conversation provides de facto real time market research and, when respectful and constructive, can be highly valuable to studios and producers looking to get the best results from their films,” senior media analyst for Comscore Paul Dergarabedian said.