Sometimes, a negative reaction cannot be ignored.
Variety reports Paramount’s upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog has been pushed back three months. Originally set to debut in November, the film will now appear in theaters on February 14th, 2020. The reason? According to director Jeff Fowler, it is so he and the VFX team can take “a little more time to make Sonic just right.”
Getting Sonic right is a key element of the film following a disastrous first trailer in which the character was redesigned as a not quite human alien creature. Many noted the overall feel of an adaptation from the 1990s while others aimed directly for Sonic’s humanoid teeth. The overall reaction was negative and Fowler quickly addressed concerns on Twitter, stating “You aren’t happy with the design & you want changes. It’s going to happen. Everyone at Paramount & Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be.”
A subsequent backlash ensued thanks to an ongoing debate about crunch periods and low pay at the very VFX houses used to complete films like Sonic. Completely redesigning the character and inserting him into finished material is no easy feat. And with the film originally scheduled to come out in November, many wondered how they could complete the task in time. Now, the job is only gargantuan as opposed to herculian.
Nonetheless, it remains to be seen if giving Sonic more of his classic animated look will be enough to save the film. While the redesign became the lightning rod for criticism, it is not the only problem glimpsed in the preview. Jim Carrey’s mugging, framing Sonic as a creature from another world or dimension and hinting at Carrey’s ultimate Robotnik form all indicate a very old theory of adapting fantasy creatures into live action films. And considering how baked in those choices are, a VFX polish may not be enough to fix a deep conceptual problem.
Sonic The Hedgehog comes to theaters on February 14th, 2020.