Spring movie season kicks into high gear as this weekend promises the most variety of new content in domestic theaters so far in 2022.
Leading the charge will undoubtedly be Paramount sonic the hedgehog 2 in what increasingly looks like another standout performance for the video game-adapted franchise. It’s the first major release to make waves with family audiences in the pre-release tracker since Sing 2 and Encanto during the holidays last year, and pent-up demand could drive it even higher than expected.
Sonic 2The release of presents a kind of potential bookend for exhibitors and moviegoers. The first film‘s excellent run was blunted by the onset of the pandemic and the closure of theaters just over two years ago. The pic, which set a video game adaptation record with a three-day domestic arc of $58 million, was loved by fans and young audiences alike. With an early home release prompted by the health crisis in early 2020, the film has continued to grow its legion of fans.
Now the sequel comes full circle. The sentiment of families remained the hardest to fit into the forecast throughout the pandemic recovery period, with mothers and adult women in general being the most cautious about returning to the movies. This latter demographic group has pushed The lost city to a strong debut of $30.5 million last month, signaling another big step in the right direction for the overall rebound of various movie segments.
Sonic 2 is now another litmus test, and unlike the above Sing 2 and Encanto, it doesn’t have a new COVID-19 variant (Omicron, late 2021) dominating the headlines. In fact, the state of the pandemic has largely diminished both in terms of virus cases and general societal sentiment, with most people resuming their pre-pandemic activities, including going to the movies.
With pent-up demand, robust pre-sales, and a final pre-release marketing swath that pushed models up previous forecasts (and beyond), sonic the hedgehog 2 is perfectly positioned as the family event of the spring with its cross section of older video game fans and young children who have just discovered the pop culture icon in recent years.
This is another exclusive play for Paramount, a strategy that has worked wonders for them with the likes of the above lost city, Fooled foreverand Yell over the past few months, let alone last year A Quiet Place Part II.
Combined with this long brewing demand for a film that could bring parents and children back again, or even the first time, since the pandemic began, this sequel has steadily seen its following profile pull off a rarity for sequels focused on children by matching and often exceeding the trends of its predecessor.
With a significant presence on high-end screens like Dolby, 4DX, ScreenX and others, Paramount expects around $50 million for the domestic opening frame. Sonic 2 begins previews on Wednesday, followed by traditional Thursday previews starting at 3 p.m. nationwide.
sonic the hedgehog 2 previously opened to $26.1 million internationally from just 31 markets last weekend.
In a counter-programming move reminiscent of “the days before,” Universal and A24 provide the variety of content often discussed this weekend with Michael Bay’s Ambulance and the Daniels Everything everywhere all at once.
The former is Bay’s first theatrical release as a director since 2017. Transformers: The Last Knightand his first non-IP film since 2016 13 hours. The filmmaker did 6 Underground for Netflix since then, which is a valid point to mention in the debate over what kinds of movies will bring moviegoers back right now.
Ambulance hasn’t quite hit the highs of our projected patterns from last month, though that’s largely a side effect of it being the first ‘crowded’ weekend of the year in a changing consumer climate. Reviews are mostly positive, however, and Universal’s marketing has done a good job of reaching its target male audience with heavy promotion at major sporting events over the past few months. Presales tend to be slightly higher than much more expensive ones moon fall.
Competition from other new content is a factor here. Many young and older men will focus on Sonic 2 this weekend, and without an IP to help sell Ambulance, Bay’s latest is likely to be a box office slow burner rather than a blockbuster opener unless drop-in sales beat current extrapolations. The film has an IMAX presence, playing to the point of being a made-for-the-big-screen movie, and is certain to be a type of walk-in cinema decision for much of its audience.
Universal is expecting around $10 million this weekend. Previews begin Thursday evening.
Last but not least, Everywhere is fresh off its platform expansion with over $1.8 million earned on just 38 sites through last weekend. The film boasts some of the highest critical and viewership scores of any A24 film to date, and the studio’s loyal fan base is expected to show itself as the film hits semi-wide in around 1,200. places with a snowball buzz in the social sphere.
This is yet another part of the litmus test with Everywhere appealing to a variety of demographics. The extent to which the film can expand beyond A24’s niche viewer base and into mainstream audiences will depend on the ability of the current market to support that level of new content on the same weekend, which has not been tested since last year. The crossover appeal isn’t extreme, but there’s enough to note.
Either way, expect another big expansion of the film this weekend that could potentially convince A24 and the exhibitors to grant a true large-scale release at some point in the coming weeks.
Weekend Forecast Ranges
sonic the hedgehog 2
Opening weekend range: $60-75 million
Opening weekend range: $9.5–14 million
Everything everywhere all at once
Semi-wide opening weekend range: $5–7.5 million
Weekend forecast and number of pitches
Box office projects between a 38 to 58% increase for this weekend’s top ten films from the top ten of last weekend’s $76.8 million.
Overall, it appears to be only the second time in 2022 that the top ten Nationals have generated over $100 million combined (previously made on The Batmanopening weekend.)
|Movie||Distributer||3 Day Weekend Forecast||National total projected through Sunday April 10||Projection of the number of pitches (from Wednesday)||% change from last weekend|
|sonic the hedgehog 2||Paramount Pictures||$65,000,000||$65,000,000||~4,232||NEW|
|Morbius||Sony Pictures / Colombia||$11,300,000||$57,600,000||~4,268||-71%|
|The lost city||Paramount Pictures||$9,100,000||$68,500,000||~3,600||-38%|
|The Batman||Warner Bros.||$6,600,000||$359,100,000||~3,300||-40%|
|Everything everywhere all at once||A24||$6,000,000||$6,000,000||~1,200||+460%|
|Unexplored||Sony Pictures / Colombia||$2,100,000||$142,200,000||~2,300||-43%|
|Spider-Man: No Coming Home||Sony Pictures/Columbia and Marvel Studios||$900,000||$804,100,000||~1,100||-38%|
|Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie||Funimation||$775,000||$31,200,000||~1,000||-61%|
|Dog||United Artists Liberating||$725,000||$61,400,000||~1,100||-45%|
*All predictions are subject to revision prior to the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.
The number of theaters is updated as confirmed by the studios. The chart above does not necessarily represent the top ten, as some studios are not finalizing weekend slot counts and/or intend to report box office returns prior to release.