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The History of Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie Era
January 22, 2023

The History of Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie Era

Reading Time: 19 minutes

This final chapter in Sonic’s history covers Sonic’s redemption upon the silver screen with the ‘Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)’ and ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022)’ movies.


It's time for a bonus article where I would cap off this history lesson with something somewhat of an honorable mention. For many years, Sonic the Hedgehog has branched into several media outside of video games. There was a handful of animated television shows like The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), and Sonic Underground, which all starred Jaleel White, best known as Steve Urkel, voicing the titular character. Sonic X was an anime that was entertainingly faithful to the series yet awkwardly dubbed into English by 4Kids Entertainment. If you want to know more about the Sonic Boom show, I'd recommend reading this article. There's also the Archie and IDW comic series considering how widely consistently popular they became among fans. As much as there is there to talk about, none of them reached the same historical impact as what video games have achieved.

However, once the 2020 decade came along, there was one piece of Sonic media that made a significant direction for the series. What began as a decades-long attempted project almost fell into the same category as others received around that time. But, unlike those projects, it was not only saved by the power of zealous artists, but also by the power of fandom. It was one of a few examples where video game-based movies can be done right. This is the story of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie series.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. Please do not harass anyone associated with Sega or Paramount mentioned in this article, and please respect their privacy, especially if anything mentioned here is something they do not wish to talk about. The article also contains spoilers regarding the films' stories and characters; read at your own risk.

Sonic the Hedgehog (OVA)

You would be surprised that making a Sonic movie took longer than anyone would anticipate.

Plans went all the way back in August 1994 when Sega of America signed a deal with MGM and Trilogy Entertainment to produce a live-action/animated hybrid film to tie in with the upcoming Sonic X-Treme for the Sega Saturn. With screenwriter Richard Jefferies involved, he pitched a treatment called ‘Sonic the Hedgehog: Wonders of the World’ where both Sonic and Dr. Robotnik from X-Treme end up in the real world as Sonic teams up with a boy to stop Robotnik. Unfortunately, Sonic X-Treme never came to be due to its troubling production and near-death experience among its programmers. Thus, the movie was canceled. Jefferies tried pitching his treatment again to DreamWorks, under Sega's permission, but it got rejected.

Two years later in Japan, Sega, General Entertainment, and animation studio Studio Pierrot produced a two-part OVA (original video animation) called Sonic the Hedgehog.

When a skeptic Sonic travels to the Land of Darkness to help his arch-nemesis Dr. Robotnik, he, Tails, and Knuckles encounter dangerous threats, including the newly-built robotic doppelganger known as Metal Sonic.

Though Sonic creators Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima supervised production, the episodes were directed and storyboarded by Kazuho Ikegami. Mayori Sekijima conceptualized the story while Masashi Kubota wrote the script. Tsuneo Ninomiya designed the characters and Mitsuhiro Tada composed the music. While the series' primary characters and elements are present, the movie supplied its own world-building and characters that stood out from the games. The setting takes place between the stratosphere-filled continents known as the Land of the Sky and the post-apocalyptic city known as the Land of Darkness. As for the characters, there is the eccentric Old Man Owl, the anxious President, and his feisty yet brave catgirl daughter named Sara, whom Dr. Robotnik plots to marry her.

In May 1998, ADV Films licensed and dubbed the OVA in English as a direct-to-video film titled ‘Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie’. Outside the voice cast, ADV Films heavily censored the OVA to make it more suitable for children. However, on January 28, 2004, the movie was re-released on DVD uncut and uncensored.

When Sonic the Hedgehog launched on May 21, 1996, in Japan and on September 7, 1999, internationally to promote the release of Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast, it turned out to be decent. Critics did enjoy the animation and action sequences, but others found the English dub ‘poor’ whether it is the ‘very basic’ story or ‘childish’ voice acting. Even though it was technically not a movie, the OVA did get a cult following from fans and non-fans.

Disney's Wreck-It Ralph (2012) and Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)

For a while, Sonic the Hedgehog has cameos and references in several films like Wayne's World, Hocus Pocus, and Ready Player One.

But, his most prominent film appearance, beforehand, was in the Disney animated feature, Wreck-It Ralph. Inspired by Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the movie featured licensed video game characters as background cameos and Sonic was no exception With Roger Craig Smith and Jun'ichi Kanemaru reprising their respective languages, Sonic made small, several cameos, including a PSA (which is a homage to the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog series) about a character dying outside their own game, which later became a crucial plot element. Dr. Eggman also appeared as a member of the video game villain support group ‘Bad-Anon’ alongside Bowser from Super Mario Bros., Clyde from Pac-Man, M.Bison, Zangief from Street Fighter, and more. In the sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Sonic returned and explained to Ralph what the Internet is, and became a member of Ralph's book club at the end of the film.

In vice versa, Ralph himself made a guest playable appearance in Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed when promoting the film.

Cameos or not, these appearances alone really excited fans and hope there is potential for Sonic to reach the big screen someday.

Sonic (2013)

Another attempt at a movie was a fan film made in 2013 by Blue Core Studios titled ‘Sonic.’

In this eighteen-minute short, Sonic (voiced by Jaleel White) must stop the evil Dr. Robotnik (DJ Hazard) from taking over the planet Mobius.

Despite not being a full-length feature film, this project was filled with familiar names that worked on it. The person in charge was the cinematographer and editor Eddie Lebron who previously directed the 2010 fan-made Mega Man movie. Other cameos in the short included James Rolfe, best known as the Angry Video Game Nerd, as a news reporter, and Doug Walker, a.k.a. the Nostalgia Critic, as a G.U.N. solder that encountered Sonic in the forest. But, the most jaw-dropping cast member was Jaleel White reprising his role as the Blue Blur since the 90s animated television shows.

As a spec film, Blue Core Studios was meant to experiment with a Sonic movie in a live-action setting. With their limited budget, Sonic, Dr. Robotnik, and an ending cameo by Knuckles are the only characters that appeared while elements from the classic and early 3D games were mixed in.

Regardless of anyone's opinion on the short itself, the video was a hit on YouTube scoring 4.1 million views and 7.4 thousand likes over the 7.3 dislike ratio.

Coincidentally enough, while Blue Core Studios was working on the movie, news had struck that an official Sonic movie was currently in development. However, little did people know, that the movie went through a change that would help Sonic who he is and make an impact that would affect the franchise forever.

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

After hiding and living on Earth for so long, Sonic's (voiced by Ben Schwartz) powers get accidentally exposed. So now, he enlists help from a local sheriff (James Marsden) to reach Sans Francsico while avoiding the government and a mad scientist named Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey).

Development began in 2013 when Sony Pictures Entertainment acquired the rights to distribute a Sonic movie. The project was announced as a live-action/CGI animated hybrid scheduled for a 2018 release. It was a collaboration between Columbia Pictures and Marza Animation Planet, the same studio that provided CGI cutscenes for the recent Sonic games. Original Film's Neal H Moritz was chosen as producer, alongside Takeshi Ito, Mie Onishi, and Toru Nakahara.

Initially, Evan Susser and Van Robichaux, known for writing the 2017 comedy film Fist Fight and a couple of episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, were planned to write the screenplay, aiming for a PG-13 rating. But instead, Patrick Casey and Josh Miller were confirmed to be head of story and screenwriters, with assistance from Oren Uziel, to make the picture more family-friendly.

Out of all the crew, two familiar names became attached to the project: Tim Miller and Jeff Fowler from Blur Studio. For those who don't remember, Tim and Jeff were visual effects and CGI animators at Blur Studio, who previously contributed to providing CGI cutscenes for Shadow the Hedgehog (2005) and Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). Jeff Fowler took the helm as the film's director, thus marking his directorial debut after experience directing the 2004 animated short Gopher Broke. As for Tim Miller, he became the film's executive producer after gaining mainstream recognition for directing the 2016 Marvel film Deadpool.

Unfortunately, Sony had to put the movie in a turnaround, most likely to the infamous 2014 Sony Pictures hack and leadership changes. Thankfully, the project was bought under a new distributor: Paramount Pictures where almost all of the production team remained unchanged. The only difference is that the film was now scheduled for a November 2019 release.

Casting for the movie was an interesting case. For Sonic's human Tom Wachowski, several actors were considered for the part, including Chris Pratt, Michael B. Jordan, Chris Evans, Justin Timberlake, and Adam Pally. Fascinatingly enough, the latter eventually earned the role of Wade, Tom's dimwitted yet loyal deputy friend. Paul Rudd was rumored to play Tom, but Paramount denied it. Ultimately, James Marsden landed the part. Other additions to the cast were Tika Sumpter as Tom's wife Maddie, Lee Majdoub as Robotnik's assistant Agent Stone, Natasha Rothwell as Maddie's sister Rachael, and Frank C. Turner as Crazy Carl who refers to Sonic as the ‘Blue Devil.’

Because his daughter was a fan of the Sonic games growing up, Jim Carrey portrays the iconic villain Dr. Robotnik. Carrey said it was one of his favorite roles where the crew gave him a lot of freedom to do whatever he wanted to do for the role. It took him a week and a half to play a character with a 300 IQ. Additionally, the dance scene was entirely improvised by Carrey and the song ‘Where Evil Goes’ was his recommendation since he enjoyed it as a kid.

Though Roger Craig Smith continues voicing the titular character, Ben Schwartz provided facial motion capture and the voice of Sonic. Besides being a fan of the original video games, Schwartz was chosen after Fowler and Miller cast him for a test reading as they pitched the project to several studios. On a side note, whenever Schwartz was unavailable during filming, a stand-in would perform alongside Marsden.

Rapper Riff Raff was cast in an undisclosed role but was cut from the final product. Garry Chalk, who previously voiced Grounder and Dr. Robotnik in The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Underground respectively, made a cameo appearance as the U.S. Navy Chief of Staff.

As a Sonic movie, it comes as no surprise that the movie is loaded with references from anything Sonic the Hedgehog-related. For starters, the small town of Green Hills, Montana is named after the first Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) stage, Green Hill Zone. San Francisco is based on the location where Sonic Team USA had their headquarters developing Sonic Adventure 2, which some levels were inspired by. The Mushroom Planet is influenced by Mushroom Hill Zone from Sonic & Knuckles. Sonic's rings used as portals to different areas function similarly to the Giant Rings in the classic games where they take players to Special Stages. Crazy Carl's inaccurate drawing of Sonic is a reference to the poorly-drawn Sonic meme known as ‘Sanic.’ While some fans believe Sonic's owl guardian Longclaw is a possible allusion to the Old Man Owl from the Sonic OVA, it is actually a subtle callback to the U.K. guidebook ‘Stay Sonic’ where Sonic was raised by an owl named Sophocles.

Even if the movie showers fanservice, there have been elements that were changed and finalized during production. Originally, the beginning would show Sonic and Longclaw being attacked by lizard people but was changed to the Echidna tribe instead. Speaking of Longclaw, there was a deleted scene where she escapes to Earth with Sonic but eventually dies of old age. Since the scene had unfinished CGI, the idea got scrapped. Knuckles was planned to have a major role and earlier drafts would feature Super Sonic. But, Fowler felt that it didn't make sense yet and wanted the story to be simple and focus on the originating rivalry between Sonic and Robotnik. Fortunately, Tails makes a mid-credit appearance not only as a nod to the fans but as a set-up for a sequel, with Colleen O'Shaughnessey reprising her role.

Since Tim Miller was producing the movie, he brought on board his collaborating composer Todd Holkenborg a.k.a. Junkie XL for the soundtrack. To simulate Masato Nakamura's score from the first two games, Holkenberg used Yamaha digital FM synthesizers to generate sounds similar to the Sega Genesis's Yamaha YM2612 sound chip. The musical score ranged from orchestral to blended techno and electronic sounds. Hyper Potions's ‘Friends’ from Sonic Mania plays at the beginning while an arranged track of Nakamura's ‘Green Hill Zone’ plays near the end of the movie. Despite his role being cut from the final product, Riff Raff managed to contribute to the soundtrack. The credits song ‘Speed Me Up’ was performed by musicians Wiz Khalifa, Lil Yachty, Ty Dolla $ign, and Sueco The Child.

With everything said, it sounded like this was going to be a great movie so far. It was until late 2018 that a teaser poster showed a silhouette of Sonic looking…different than usual. Many people were uncertain about this new design.

However, when the movie's first official trailer was unveiled on April 30, 2019, the world become more shocked by Sonic's new look. Apparently, the production team created a more realistic version of Sonic with added fur, new sneakers, two separate eyes, and a human-like physique to match Sonic's supersonic speed. For inserting a CGI character into a live-action setting, they used Ted from Seth MacFarlane's 2012 film of the same name as a reference.

In an IGN article, Tim Miller explained:

‘It would be weird, and it would feel like he was running around nude if he was some sort of otter-like thing. It was always, for us, fur, and we never considered anything different. It's part of what integrates him into the real world and makes him a real creature.’

— Tim Miller, executive producer of Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

As ambitious as it sounded, everyone tended to disagree with that notion once the trailer came out. Even though they enjoyed Jim Carrey's performance and some references, Sonic himself was the driving force behind the heavy criticism. They found his humanoid appearance giving an uncanny valley, especially with given human teeth. Not to mention implementing Coolio's ‘Gangster's Paradise’ as ‘jarring.’ Even Sega and co-creator Yuji Naka were not happy with the design. Within two days of its release, the trailer has more than 20 million views with hundreds of thousands of dislikes. In other words, the movie received a very awkward first impression.

With all the overwhelming negativity that the trailer received, many assumed this would be another recipe for disaster among other video game-based movies. All of a sudden on May 2, Fowler made an unexpected announcement: In response to the criticism, Sonic would be officially redesigned. On top of that, the movie would be delayed to Valentine's Day of next year, so the animators won't have to work overtime. Fans everywhere were speechless yet relieved upon hearing the news. It was evident that Jeff Fowler and his production team are passionate about Sonic and realized the errors of their artistic endeavors.

To ensure Sonic remains faithful to his game design, Sonic artist Tyson Hesse was hired as the lead designer with animation produced by Marza Animation Planet and an additional $5 million to the film's $90 million budget. Sonic now had larger and green eyes, new shoes, added his white gloves, and his body proportions were less humanlike.

Once the second trailer aired on November 12, it received the completely polar opposite reception. Fans and audiences loved Sonic's redesign and the lighthearted tone fitted a lot better than initially. Even the trailer received thousands of likes over the like-to-dislike ratio with more than 500 million views.

Reception & Legacy

After years of trial and error, Sonic finally dashed into theaters nearly worldwide on February 14, 2020, and on June 26 in Japan. With all that hyped-up anticipation, the movie turned out to be…fun enough for families. Critics praised the action sequences, revamped visuals, upbeat humor, Schwartz and Carrey's performances as Sonic and Dr. Robotnik respectively, and faithfulness to the source material. The only, albeit minor, criticisms that the film received were the plot was clichéd and predictable while the product placement (particularly Olive Garden) felt forced. Regardless of the lukewarm reception, fans anywhere have declared Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) to be one of the ‘better’ video game film adaptations in recent years, next to the live-action Pokémon movie, Detective Pikachu. Some say this was also the ‘best’ impactful move on the franchise after its decade-long mixed reception.

Additionally, the movie managed to collect a high abundance of rings at the box office where it earned $149 million domestically and a total of $320 million worldwide. Even when the COVID-19 pandemic started making its rounds that year, Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) ended up as the sixth-highest-grossing film in 2020 and the highest-grossing-superhero film the same year, ending Marvel's decade-long run of successful box-office hits. Imagine that. In terms of awards season, the movie had nominations at the People's Choice Awards, Saturn Awards, and Kids' Choice Awards. Among all the nominations, Jim Carrey won ‘Best Villain in a Movie’ at the Critics' Choice Super Awards and Ben Schwartz won ‘Best Animated or VFX Performance’ at the Hollywood Critics Association Awards in 2021.

Due to the pandemic, Paramount released the film digitally on home media earlier on March 31 and later on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD on May 19. Besides the behind-the-featurettes, audio commentary, and deleted scenes, the movie contained an original short film Around the World in 80 Seconds which involves Sonic visiting several tourist attractions on Earth. Upon release, it became the sixth top-selling home video title of 2020 with a total of two million Blu-ray/DVD units sold by January 2021 and earned $50 million in U.S. revenue, as of April 2022.

While there was clearly no video game tie-in, Sonic (including a baby version of himself) and Longclaw became playable characters in the app game Sonic Forces: Speed Battle as a promotional tie-in for the film. In 2022, the original design of Sonic makes a surprise appearance as a minor character in the Disney live-action/animation hybrid film Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers. There, he is fittingly named ‘Ugly Sonic’ where they poke fun at the original trailer's reaction and he is voiced by comedian Tim Robinson. To be fair, it was a much better-executed idea than Jar Jar Binks planned to appear.

This was an example of a video game movie that almost fell into turmoil. What began as a Sony Pictures project went into turnaround, but Paramount Pictures secured the rights with nearly the entire production team intact. The team consisted of experienced and talented filmmakers and actors that had a history with the Blue Blur. Their realistic interpretation of Sonic ended up as a huge mistake and passionately make up for it, thanks to the power of the fandom. If they really stuck with the old design, the movie would've bombed. But, what happened in the past stays in the past. Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) made quite a name for itself in video game movie history. It understood the source material with fewer creative liberties and maintained what people enjoyed about the franchise. It not only made fans happy but also opened a newer generation of fans as well. Whether you are a fan or not, this film was still a fun ride and the future of Sonic's redemption was beginning.

Now that the movie was a success, Jeff and his team now have the confidence to bring more elements into the sequel. The first movie may had a few components that resemble the series, but it was time to up the ante with a bigger story, more action, and familiar faces in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022).

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022)

When Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) returns with a new ally named Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) to search for the Master Emerald, Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) and his new friend Tails (voiced by Colleen O'Shaughnessey) must stop them before it's too late.

Development began two months after the first movie's release when Jeff Fowler expressed interest in doing a sequel that would focus on the dynamic between Sonic and Tails' friendship and developing Dr. Robotnik. However, according to Ben Schwartz, he felt it made sense for Paramount not to make any announcements yet due to COVID-19 and its impact on the film industry. Nonetheless, co-writer Pat Casey stated there were still in talks for a sequel, along with Jim Carrey interested in wearing a fatsuit to closely resemble Dr. Robotnik's game design.

One month later, Paramount confirmed that the sequel was in development and almost all the cast and crew have returned, including Jeff Fowler as director, Tim Miller as executive producer, Pat Casey & Josh Miller as writers, Tyson Hesse as lead designer, and more.

While the plot incorporated elements from both Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992) and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994), Fowler confirmed that is not a direct adaptation of the games, but rather a ‘melting pot’ of ideas from several Sonic games. One film poster visually resembles the North American box art of the actual Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992).

As mentioned during the first film's early drafts, many scrapped ideas were now revived for the sequel: the appearances of Knuckles the Echidna and Super Sonic. Fowler wanted Knuckles' portrayal to be as faithful as his earlier appearances in the Genesis era where his ‘entire existence is about honor and about being a warrior.’ The story also fleshed out the backstory between the owl and echidna tribes, and the lore of the Master Emerald, where all seven Chaos Emeralds were forged into creating it. Additionally, more of Sonic's traits, like his inability to swim and his love for chilidogs, were included in the film.

Like before, the sequel contained more references and Easter Eggs for the fans. Agent Stone runs a coffee shop/secret laboratory called ‘Mean Bean’ which is named after the spin-off puzzle game, Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine. The snowboarding scene is a homage to the Ice Cap Zone from both Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994) and Sonic Adventure. For the latter, the manhole covers exploding open with gushing water is parallel to the scene signaling Perfect Chaos' attack on Station Square, and the leader of the Echidna tribe Pacahamac was named after the ancient tribe leader. The only difference is that he was Knuckles' father instead of Tikal's. Tom's cellphone ringtone is the Green Hill Zone music from Sonic the Hedgehog (1991). The temple where Master Emerald was hidden was influenced by both the Labyrinth Zone and Marble Garden Zone from Sonic 1 and 3. The concept of Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles teaming up is a tribute to the team-up mechanic from Sonic Heroes. Tails' translator is modeled and based on the Miles Electric device he used in current Sonic games. Not only the Guardian Units of Nation (G.U.N.) made their appearance, but during the mid-credit scene, we get a surprise cameo of Shadow the Hedgehog, which like Tails, is a set-up for another sequel. It is also likely a connection to Fowler and Miller's contributions to Shadow the Hedgehog (2005).

Many of the cast reprised their roles as their respective characters, including Colleen O'Shaughnessey as Tails, making her the only Sonic voice actor, by far, to provide her character's voice outside the games. Thanks to the support from her fans, Colleen felt her experience in the movie was ‘unbelievable and joyous and beautiful and amazing.’

Though he didn't wear the fatsuit as planned, Jim Carrey stated ‘it could happen’ one day and thought the look was ‘really cool.’ In addition to making his character look more closely to the game than previously, Carrey enjoyed the internal changes, Dr. Robotnik has received, such as becoming insane after being stranded on the Mushroom Planet. The most fun Carrey ever had during his role was during the third act when Robotnik turned ‘quantum evil’ after being possessed by the Master Emerald's power.

When casting for Knuckles, John Cena and Dwayne Johnson were considered for the part. Jason Momoa almost accepted the role but turned it down due to scheduling conflicts with the upcoming Aquaman sequel. Ultimately, Knuckles was officially voiced by Idris Elba. As a dedicated video game fan, Elba prepared for the role by exploring the character's backstory and identity. His research also helped him define the character's voice where he initially wanted Knuckles to talk in a squeaky voice for comedic purposes. But, that idea didn't suit Fowler and the crew. So, Elba went through several voices, cadences, and accents till he found a voice that fitted Knuckles' personality.

In an interview with New York Times, Elba said:

‘He doesn't have a sense of humor in the same way Sonic does. He's very dry and matter-of-fact, and he uses English just to get his point across and move on. He hasn't got time for niceties. We used that construct as a way to start to develop what he sounds like.’

— Idris Elba, voice of Knuckles the Echidna

Funnily enough, his deep voice was so appealing, that it fueled a ‘Sexy Knuckles’ meme on the Internet since the first trailer's release.

With Marza Animation Planet and Moving Picture Company both returning for the film's visual effects and animation, several adjustments were made to Sonic and Tails' character models. Sonic maintained his appealing redesign but now was made much taller. Tails' model received some tweaks when comparing his appearance in the mid-credits scene. Tails was given a longer and more expressive face and less saturated fur. Knuckles' design remained true to his game counterpart where his body proportions were thicker and broader to distinguish his physical prowess, though not as exaggerated as his Sonic Boom counterpart. The visuals for the Mushroom Planet and the cockpit inside the Death Egg Robot were provided by DNEG. Despite Shadow having a couple of alternations when comparing his original counterpart, his character model is actually a re-rigged version of Sonic's model due to time constraints.

Tom Holkenborg also returned to compose the soundtrack, retaining the synthesized music and sounds that the Genesis games were known for.

When it comes to the main theme, there are surprisingly two different versions. For the most worldwide version, the single ‘Stars in the Sky’ was performed by rapper and Sonic fan Kid Cudi. Despite having no involvement with the previous movie's soundtrack, Cudi once rented out a theater where he invited his fans/followers, including Ben Schwartz, for a private screening of the first movie.

As for the Japanese dub, the main theme ‘Up on the Green Hill from Sonic the Hedgehog Green Hill Zone – Masado and Miwasco Version -‘ was exclusively performed by the band Dreams Come True. On top of that, Masato Nakamura, who composed the first two original Sonic games, returned to voice the Russian Dancer in the Japanese dub.

Reception & Legacy

When Sonic and Tails embarked on their new theatrical adventure worldwide on April 8, it was a major improvement over its predecessor. The visuals, action sequences, performances, humor, and its additional newcomers were given as much praise as before. The only setback was that the screenplay, pacing, and runtime could've been tweaked. Critics and fans have deemed Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to be one of the ‘best’ video game-based movies in such a long time.

At the box office, the sequel surpassed its predecessor's numbers by earning $190.9 million domestically and a worldwide total of $402.7 million. This results in historically, as of this article, the highest-grossing video game movie in the U.S. and the fourth highest-grossing video game movie of all time.

For home media, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was released for download and streaming on Paramount+ on May 24, and later on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD on August 9. Similar to the first movie, an exclusive short film fully animated by Marza Animation Planet was included called Sonic Drone Home, which involved Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles fighting off one of Eggman's drones in a scrapyard. Casey and Miller wrote the script while Schwartz reprised his role as Sonic. The only difference is that Alicyn Packard and Fred Tatasciore lent their voices as Tails and Knuckles respectively. Like before, the movie versions of Tails and Knuckles were unlockable characters in the Sonic Forces: Speed Battle app as a tie-in promotion for the sequel.

Thanks to the sequel being a hit, Paramount announced that a spin-off miniseries starring Knuckles is in development for Paramount+ streaming in 2023 with Elba reprising his role. As for the third movie, it is scheduled for release on December 2024 while plans for a Sonic cinematic universe are underway.

Fowler and his visionary team planted the seeds during their first crop and eventually fully bloomed into the movie series they were passionate about. The sequel took what made the first movie successful and expanded more elements to make it look and feel like a Sonic movie. It introduced familiar characters that pay respect to the source material with minor artistic liberties, kept its focus on Sonic and everything else in balance, the actors adding more charisma and personality to their characters, and made history as the highest-grossing video game film in the United States. Fans and audiences couldn't be happier with how the franchise has improved since the late 2010s and understanding that the Sonic brand can still be alive and well in some shape or form. The future of the Sonic film series remains a mystery since there were rumors going around that Jim Carrey may retire after the sequel's release and the third movie's scheduled release would be in direct competition with the third Avatar film. Either way, that doesn't stop Sonic from slowing down. These Sonic movies, overall, are prime examples of how to do a video game movie right, and hope Hollywood would learn from their past mistakes and make better adaptations for a better future.


In conclusion, Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game franchise that evolved in the most unexpected ways in the gaming industry. It started as Sega's new mascot that outsold Nintendo during the early competitive years, experimented with hit-and-miss spinoffs, had a delayed transition into 3D, made appearances on Nintendo consoles/crossovers, went through a dark era of historical proportions, and rebranded the franchise's former glory after a series of average or mediocre games. Sometimes, it could be an example of history repeating itself whether it was the exclusive Wii U partnership or experimenting with new directions ending up with mixed results. Yet, no matter what the subject matter, Sonic always finds his way to run back up to the top. The franchise heavily influenced and emphasized fast-paced gameplay that no other platformer had ever attempted at the time. It provided a variety of characters, graphical & audio presentation, and gameplay mechanics that eventually became staples. Even if the games are core to the series, other media has reached a new speed in priority: comics, animation, feature films, and merchandise. Not to mention, it developed a highly dedicated fanbase, myself included, to keep the series more alive than the games themselves. Sonic the Hedgehog continues to be one of the bestselling video game franchises with over 140 million units (as of 2016) and grossing over $6 billion in sales (as of 2020).

But, if there's any lesson to learn from this experience is that there will always be change. As I mentioned in my previous article: ‘Change is an essential part of life and we must learn to adapt in order to survive.’ In spite of Sega's questionable business practices, Sonic Team has been actively listening to feedback and criticisms towards past games and starting to bring Sonic into a new foundation while preserving the essence of high-speed platforming. The 2020 decade is a new chapter in Sonic's gaming career and hoping that the future will be fast and effective as the Blue Blur himself.

Thank you for reading this long-running journey across these Green Hills. Next time, I'll be talking about a video game franchise that, coincidentally enough, has turned twenty but is long overdue. Until then: …Let your heart be your guiding key.

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