Paramount’s animated Sonic the Hedgehog set a new record for videogame adaptations with a $57 million 3-day opening, which helped the top ten films earn 23% more than they did during the same frame a year ago when Battle Angel Alita topped the charts with $28.525 million.

Sonic the Hedgehog's 3-day total of $57 million tops the previous record for the debut of a videogame adaptation, which was set by Detective Pikachu, which opened with $54.3 million in 2019.  If the projections for a $68 million 4-day total hold, Sonic will also have the fourth highest Presidents’ Day weekend total (not adjusted for inflation).   With moderate critical acclaim (63% positive on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes) and a solid “A” CinemaScore, the kid-friendly Sonic appears to be well positioned for a nice run against its mostly R-rated competition at least until Pixar’s Onward debuts on March 6.  According to PostTrak 70% of the audience for Sonic was under 25—and 56% were male.

Readers of this column will recall numerous occasions in which a change in a film’s release date indicates that the film is in trouble, and often portends box office disaster, but Sonic the Hedgehog is an exception to this “rule.”  Originally scheduled for release in November, the film was held up for 3 months in order to fix the character design, which fans who had seen the trailer were complaining about online.  While it is impossible to know if the changes in design helped fuel Sonic’s strong opening, it is hard to see how opening in November with heavy competition from Frozen II and other kid-targeting films would have worked as well as opening in February when there is a dearth of children’s films and plenty of R-rated competition (Bad Boys For Life, Birds of Prey, etc.).

At first glance Birds of Prey’s 48.2% drop appears to be a solid hold for a superhero film.  The problem is that BoP seriously underperformed in its opening—a small drop from a less-than-auspicious debut is a mixed blessing at best.  An even bigger problem is that this holiday frame is a solid movie-going weekend and Birds of Prey’s week-to-week decline is by far the biggest in the top ten.  While Birds of Prey’s budget was less than most superhero films (reportedly under $100 million), its performance so far remains disappointing, and it appears that the film will end up with under $100 million in domestic ticket revenue unless it really starts to develop some “legs” over the next few weekends.

Third place is currently being hotly contested by two new film: Blumhouse’s horror movie take on the Fantasy Island TV series, which was produced for just $7 million, debuted with $12.4 million ($21.3 million worldwide), but with just a 9% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a poor “C-“ CinemaScore, this Fantasy Island does not appear to have much staying power: and Stella Meghie’s romantic drama The Photograph, which earned an estimated $12.3 million, has better long term prospects thanks to its “B+” CinemaScore.

Dropping down to fifth place was 2020’s first breakout hit, the R-rated action comedy Bad Boys For Life, which slipped just 5.9% as it earned $11.3 million to bring its domestic total to $181.4 million. Bad Boys For Life has now passed John Wick 3 ($174 million), and it should soon become the first film ever that debuted in January and went on to earn over $200 million at the domestic box office.

Sam Mendes’ World War I film 1917 didn’t win Best Picture, but It still got an Oscar bump as it declined just 12.4% as it added $8 million to bring its domestic total to $144.4 million.  But Bong June Ho’s Parasite, which did win “Best Picture” (and a host of other Oscars) got a major bump (+234%) as it earned $5.5 million to bring its domestic total to nearly $44 million, which makes it the fifth biggest foreign language release ever here in North America (not adjusting for inflation).

The Will Ferrell/Julia Louis Dreyfus comedy/drama, Downhill, a remake of a Swedish film, bombed, earning just 4.6 million from over 2,300 locations.  When a star-laden film debuts at #10, its dark future is obvious to all.

Be sure to check back here next week to see what happens with the debut of two new wide releases, Fox/Disney’s pricey Jack London adaptation Call of the Wild starring Harrison Ford and STX’s “scary doll” horror sequel Brahms: The Boy II, which was previously slated for release in July and then again in December of 2019.