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Sonic the Hedgehog is a 2001 American computer-animated-action-adventure-comedy film based on the video game franchise of the same name. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis, Andrew Adamson and Jeff Fowler, and released on May 18, 2001, by Paramount Pictures.

It stars Tom Hanks, TBA, Cameron Diaz, TBA, TBA and Jim Carrey as the voices of the lead characters.

Sonic the Hedgehog premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d'Or. It was widely praised as an animated film that featured adult-oriented humour and themes while catering to children at the same time. The film was theatrically released in the United States on May 18, 2001, and grossed $490.4 million worldwide against a production budget of $60 million. Sonic the Hedgehog won 2001's Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Upon release, the film had received generally positive reviews from critics and fans who praised its visuals, the performances, and its faithfulness to the source material.

Sonic the Hedgehog saw a 3D re-release in theatres on May 20, 2011, to celebrate its 10th anniversary, TBA

The film's success helped establish Paramount Animation as a prime competitor to Pixar in feature film computer animation, and two sequels were released—Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2004) and Sonic the Third (2007), along with two-holiday specials, an animated television series, a stage musical, and a spin-off film. Although plans for a fourth film were cancelled prior to the third film's release, the project was revived in 2016, as a live-action remake to the film set to be released in 2022.

In 2020, the film along with Shrek (1995) were selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", making it the one of the first Paramount Animation computer-animated film and the first animated feature not produced or distributed by Disney to earn that honor.

Premise

After discovering a small team of animal heroes led by a blue, fast hedgehog (Sonic), a small-town police officer (Tom Wachowski) must help it defeat an evil genius (Dr. Eggman) who wants to do experiments on it.

Plot

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Cast

  • Tom Hanks as Thomas Michael "Tom" Wachowski, The sheriff of Green Hills who wishes to join the SFPD. He befriends Sonic, Amy, Tails, and Knuckles, and aids him in there quest to stop Robotnik.
  • TBA as Sonic the Hedgehog, a blue hedgehog that is gifted with superhuman speed, and the main protagonist of the movie.
  • TBA as Tails, a yellow fox with two tails, hence his name. He has the ability to jet-propel himself with his tails, by spinning them around fastly, TBA.
  • TBA as Knuckles the Echidna, a red echidna who is very strong, TBA.
  • Cameron Diaz as Amy Rose, Sonic's girlfriend who is a pink hedgehog. , TBA
  • Jim Carrey as Dr. Eggman, a mad scientist and inventor who is after Sonic's super-speed powers for world conquest, TBA
  • TBA as as Maddie Wachowski, a veterinarian and Tom's wife, who helps him and Sonic evade Robotnik
  • TBA as Rachel, Maddie's older sister who dislikes Tom and encourages Maddie to leave him
  • TBA as Agent Stone, a government agent who works for Robotnik
  • TBA as Scratch, TBA
  • TBA as Grounder, TBA
  • TBA as Jojo, Rachel's daughter and the niece of Maddie and Tom
  • TBA as as Major Bennington, a soldier who dislikes Robotnik
  • TBA as as Commander Walters, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who orders Robotnik to investigate the disturbances caused by Sonic.
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Production

Development

Development for a film adaptation based on the Sonic the Hedgehog video games began in 1993 during the production of DIC Entertainment's television show Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. Michealene Risley, the newly appointed consumer products director who helped green-light Adventures, negotiated with several Hollywood producers. Sega CEO Tom Kalinske, however, was wary of damaging the brand, citing the commercial and critical failures of the Street Fighter film and other video game movies. Despite Kalinske's concerns, Sega was enthusiastic about a film adaptation. In August 1994, Sega struck a development deal with MGM and Trilogy Entertainment Group, with Pen Densham as the executive producer of the film.

MGM and Sega hired Richard Jefferies, an associate of Risley from her days at Marvel Comics, to write a film treatment. At the time, Sega was developing Sonic X-treme for its next console, the Sega Saturn, and asked Jefferies to feature the Saturn in the screenplay. Jefferies' treatment, entitled Sonic the Hedgehog: Wonders of the World, was submitted in May 1995. While the draft received a positive response among MGM and Sega executives, Shinobu Toyoda suggested Kalinske replace Robotnik with a meaner villain. MGM eventually cancelled the project. Jeffries suggested that the film was scrapped as both Sega and MGM wanted a higher share of the profits, while Densham said it followed creative differences between Sega and Trilogy.

In 1997, Paramount Pictures acquired the rights to produce and distribute a film based on Sonic the Hedgehog, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Bloo J's attention and the studio decided to make it into a film. Recounting the inspiration for making the film, TBA

On June 10, 1997, an animated film was announced as Paramount Pictures and Steven Spielberg signed on to direct a film based on the video game series, After buying the rights to the film, Katzenberg and the other animation heds at Games Animation quickly put it in active development in November 1997.

On January 7, 1999, it was revealed that directorial efforts had shifted from Spielberg to Robert Zemeckis, who had previously been hand-picked by Spielberg to direct the Back to the Future film franchise and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

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Post-production

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Casting

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Animation

Sonic the Hedgehog was originally set up to be a live-action/CG animation hybrid with background plate miniature sets and the main characters composited into the scene as motion-captured computer graphics, using an ExpertVision Hires Falcon 10 camera system to capture and apply realistic human movement to the characters. A sizable crew was hired to run a test, and after a year and a half of R & D, the test was finally screened in May 1997. The results were not satisfactory, with Katzenberg stating "It looked terrible, it didn't work, it wasn't funny, and we didn't like it." The studio then turned to Pacific Data Images (PDI), who helped Sonic the Hedgehog get to its final, computer-animated look. At this time, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was still in production by the studio and effects supervisor Ken Bielenberg was asked by Aron Warner "to start development for Sonic the Hedgehog." Similar to previous PDI works, PDI used its own proprietary software (like its own Fluid Animation System) for its animated movies. For some elements, however, it also took advantage of some of the powerhouse animation software in the market. This is particularly true with Maya, which PDI used for most of its dynamic cloth animation and for the hair and fur of Amy, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Tom, the others and Robotnik.

"We did a lot of work on character and set-up, and then kept changing the set up while we were doing the animation," Hui noted. "In Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, we had a facial system that gave us all the facial muscles under the skin. In Sonic the Hedgehog, we applied that to whole body. So, if you pay attention to Sonic when he talks, you see that when he opens his jaw, he forms a double chin, because we have the fat and the muscles underneath. That kind of detail took us a long time to get right." One of the most difficult parts of creating the film was making the fur of  Sonic, Amy, Tails and Knuckles flow smoothly so that it didn't look like that of a Chia Pet. This fell into the hands of the surfacing animators who used flow controls within a complex shader to provide the fur with many attributes (ability to change directions, lie flat, swirl, etc.). It was then the job of the visual effects group, led by Ken Bielenberg, to make the fur react to environment conditions. Once the technology was mastered, it was able to be applied to many aspects of Sonic the Hedgehog including grass, moss, beards and eyebrows, the human hair realistic was different from Sonic, Amy, Tails and Knuckles fur, requiring a separate rendering system and a lot of attention from the lighting and visual effects teams.

When the animation was about to be finished, Tom Kalinske TBA.

Sonic the Hedgehog has 31 sequences, with 1,288 shots in every sequence total. Aron Warner said that the creators "envisioned a magical environment that you could immerse yourself into." Sonic the Hedgehog includes 36 separate in-film locations to make the world of the film, which Paramount claimed was more than any previous computer-animated feature before. In-film locations were finalized and as demonstrated by past Paramount animated movies, colour and mood were of the utmost importance.

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Musical score

Sonic the Hedgehog, along with 1994's Wonder Park and 1995's Shrek, introduced a new element to give the film a unique feel. The film used pop music and other Oldies to make the story more forward. Covers of songs like "On the Road Again" and "Try a Little Tenderness" were integrated in the film's score. As the film was about to be completed, Katzenberg suggested to the filmmakers to redo the film's ending to "go out with a big laugh"; instead of ending the film with just a storybook closing over TBA as they ride off into the sunset, they decided to add the song "I'm a Believer" covered by Smash Mouth.

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Release

The film was originally scheduled for release on November 8, 2000, but on December 1999, its release date was pushed back to May 22, 2001, due to extra time for the film to be completed and How the Grinch Stole Christmas taking that date.

The film premiered on April 22, 2001, at the Mann Village Theatre, Westwood in Los Angeles, and was released in the United States on May 18, 2001.

In 2000, IMAX released CyberWorld onto its branded large-screen theaters. It was a compilation film that featured stereoscopic conversions of various animated shorts and sequences, including the Meteor Shower sequence and the Poultra Battle in Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Paramount was so impressed by the technology used for the sequence's "stereoscopic translation", that the studio and IMAX decided to plan a big-screen 3D version of Sonic the Hedgehog. The film would have been re-released during the Christmas season of 2001, or the following summer, after its conventional 2D release. The re-release would have also included new sequences and an alternate ending. Plans for this was dropped due to "creative changes" instituted by Paramount and resulted in a loss of $1.18 million, down from IMAX's profit of $3.24 million.

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Box office

Before its release, some journalists expected Sonic the Hedgehog to be a flop. The video game movie genre had not been successful for the later years, with Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) and Wing Commander (1999) being a notable flop however when the film was released the box office said the opposite.

Sonic the Hedgehog opened on around 6,000 screens across 3,587 theaters, eleven of them showed the film digitally, made possible by the THX Division of Lucasfilm, This was the first time that Paramount had shown one of its films digitally.  The film earned $11.6 million on its first day and $42.3 million on its opening weekend, topping the box office for the weekend and averaging $11,805 from 3,587 theatres. In its second weekend, due to the Memorial Day Weekend holiday, the film gained 0.3 percent to $42.5 million and $55.2 million over the four-day weekend, resulting in an overall 30 percent gain. Despite this, the film finished in second place behind Pearl Harbor and had an average of $15,240 from expanding to 3,623 sites. In its third weekend, the film retreated 34 percent to $28.2 million for a $7,695 average from expanding to 3,661 theatres. The film closed on December 6, 2001, after grossing $273.7 million domestically, along with $216.7 million overseas, for a worldwide total of $490.4 million. Produced on a $95 million budget, the film was a huge box office smash and is the fourth highest-grossing film of 2001 behind Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and Monsters, Inc.. The film sold an estimated 47,290,600 tickets in North America.

Sonic the Hedgehog became the highest-grossing animated film ever to be released in Australia, passing the mark set by The Lion King in 1994. In the United Kingdom, Sonic the Hedgehog regained the top spot at the British box office after being beaten out the previous week by Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, earning a $20.3 million since its opening in the UK, it became the highest-grossing film based on a video game in US box office history, surpassing Super Mario Bros. until Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in 2004 and The Angry Birds Movie in 2016

Critical reception

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an 88% approval rating based on 203 reviews, with an average rating of 7.81/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Fittingly fleet and frequently fun, Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game-inspired adventure that offers viewers a funny, fast-paced ride." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 84 out of 100 based on 34 critics, indicating "universal acclaim" Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.

Roger Ebert praised the film, giving it four stars out of a possible four and describing it as "jolly and wicked, filled with sly in-jokes and yet somehow possessing a heart". USA Today's Susan Wloszczyna praised Tom Hanks's and TBA's performance, stating it "gives the comic performance of there careers, aided by sensational digital artistry, as he brays for the slightly neurotic motormouth, TBA, Richard Schickel of Time also enjoyed TBA's role, stating "No one has ever made a funnier hedgehog of himself than TBA., Peter Rainer of New York magazine liked the script, also stating "The animation, directed by Robert Zemeckis, Andrew Adamson and Jeff Fowler, is often on the same wriggly, giggly level as the script, although the more "human" characters, such as Tom Wachowski and Dr. Eggman, are less interesting than the animals and creatures—a common pitfall in animated films of all types. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote "Sonic the Hedgehog is a world-class charmer that could even seduce the Academy when it hands out the first official animation Oscar next year." James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "Sonic the Hedgehog is not a guilty pleasure for sophisticated movie-goers; it is, purely and simply, a pleasure."  Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote "The witty, fractured video game movie Sonic the Hedgehog has a solid base of clever writing."Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A-, saying "A kind of palace coup, a shout of defiance, and a coming of age for Paramount." Jay Boyar of the Orlando Sentinel wrote "It's a pleasure to be able to report that the movie both captures and expands upon the book's playful spirit of deconstruction.

Steven Rosen of The Denver Post wrote "Paramount Animation again proves a name to trust for imaginative, funny animated movies that delight kids and adults equally."  Susan Stark of The Detroit News gave the film four out of four stars, saying "Swift, sweet, irreverent, rangy and as spirited in the writing and voice work as it is splendid in design." Lou Lumenick of the New York Post gave the film four out of four stars, saying "TBA, Sonic the Hedgehog is the sort of unlikely hero that nobody could love – except just about everyone who sees this hip and hilarious animated delight."  Jami Bernard of the New York Daily News gave the film four out of four stars, saying "The brilliance of the voice work, script, direction and animation all serve to make Sonic the Hedgehog an adorable, infectious work of true sophistication." Rene Rodriguez gave the film three out of four stars, calling it "a gleefully fractured fairy tale that never becomes cynical or crass". Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times gave the film four out of five stars, saying "Beating up on the irritatingly dainty Disney trademarks is nothing new; it's just that it has rarely been done with the demolition-derby zest of Sonic the Hedgehog."[

Naoto Ohshima and Yuji Naka, the creators of the original videogame series, enjoyed the film, stating "We all went sort of expecting to hate it, thinking, 'What has Hollywood done to it?' But we loved it. We were afraid it would be too sickeningly cute and, instead, Yuji just thought they did a wonderful, witty job of it."

A mixed review came from Mark Caro of the Chicago Tribune, who gave the film two and a half stars out of four and compared the film to Toy Story 2, saying it "had a higher in-jokes/laughs ratio without straining to demonstrate its hipness or to evoke heartfelt emotions" On the more negative side, Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice said he was "desperately avoiding the risk of even a half-second of boredom", and said "the movie is wall-to-window-to-door noise, babbling, and jokes (the first minute sees the first fart gag), and demographically it's a hard-sell shotgun spray."[ Christy Lemire of the Associated Press described Sonic the Hedgehog as a "105-minute onslaught of in-jokes", and said while it "strives to have a heart" with "a message about beauty coming from within", "somehow [the message] rings hollow". Anthony Lane of The New Yorker said, despite the film "cunning the rendering of surfaces, there's still something flat and charmless in the digital look, and most of the pleasure rises not from the main romance but from the quick, incidental gags."

Home media

The film was released by Paramount Home Entertainment on VHS and 2-disc DVD on November 2, 2001. Both releases included Sonic's Green Hill Zone Karaoke Dance Party, a 3-minute musical short film, that takes up right after Sonic's ending, with film's characters performing a medley of modern pop songs. Also included was Patrick and the Ghostlight, a Gametoons short about a police officer warning Patrick about the "ghostlight", an ancient blue spirit everyone fears. However, curiosity gets the best of Patrick and he starts investigating.

Sonic the Hedgehog was released on video the same day that Pixar's Monsters, Inc. hit theatres. Since videos were traditionally released on Tuesdays, Disney's executives did not receive this well, saying that the move "seemed like an underhanded attempt to siphon off some of their film's steam". Paramount responded that it "simply shifted the release to a Friday to make it more of an event and predicted that it and other studios would do so more frequently with important films." Monsters, Inc. earned that weekend more than $62 million, breaking the record for an animated film.

Sonic the Hedgehog's video release made more than $100 million and eventually became the biggest selling DVD at the time with over 5.5 million sales. Sonic the Hedgehog generated more than $420 million in revenue for Paramount on DVD and VHS and has sold more than 21 million copies of the 23 million shipped by January 2002 worldwide, more than 10 million Sonic the Hedgehog DVDs have been sold by that point.

A 3D version of the film was released on Blu-ray 3D by Paramount Home Entertainment on December 1, 2010, which included the 2008 short film, Keroppi: The Christmas Eve Gift, which is a remake of the Christmas special of the same name, along with its sequels, and a regular 2D Blu-ray boxset of the series was released six days later, Sonic the Hedgehog was released on 4K Blu-ray on May 15, 2020. It also included the shorts in the original DVD and VHS release of the movies.

Marketing 

Radio Disney, Disney Channel, Toon Disney, and Jetix was told not to allow any ads for the film to air on the channels and the networks, stating, "Due to recent initiatives with The Walt Disney Company, we are being asked not to align ourselves promotionally with this new release Sonic the Hedgehog. The channels and networks may accept spot dollars only in individual markets." The restriction was later relaxed to allow ads for the film's soundtrack album onto the channels and stations.

In Fall 2000, A online website was set up for the film which featured Home, DVD/Video Fun, Behind the Scenes, Meet the Characters, Trailers, Games, Images and more.

Theatrical release promotions

  • In the USA, at The 74th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (on November 23, 2000), Sonic the Hedgehog has a second look and returned to the Macy's as a balloon but however, he has the 2001 look from the film to promote the upcoming 2001 film set to be released on May 18, 2001, with Paramount and Sega of America, Inc. as his sponsor he also appeared in The 75th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (On November 22, 2001) to promote the home media release of Sonic the Hedgehog (2001).
  • In the USA and UK, To promote the release of Sonic the Hedgehog (2001) in theatres, Burger King, giving out a selection of ten exclusive Candy Caddies based on the Sonic characters from the film in their Big Kids' Meals.
  • In the USA, M&Ms released a flavour of their chocolate candies called "Blueberry Sonic M&Ms" with the flavour of Blueberry and normal M&M flavouring for a limited time.
  • Ice cream chain Baskin-Robbins also ran an 8-week promotion of the film, selling products such as Sonic's Hot Fudge Green Hill Zone Sundae, a combination of Oreo Cookies 'n Cream ice cream, hot fudge, crushed chocolate cookies, whipped cream and Green Apple Syrup, and Sonic Freeze Frame Cake, featuring an image of Sonic and Robotnik on sunflower chocolates.
  • In the USA and select international markets, McFarlane Toys, Hasbro and Milton Bradley Company/Parker Brothers released action figures, sets and interactive board games as toys for the film.
  • In the USA, Kellogg's Cereals such as Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Rice Krispies, Cocoa Krispies, Rice Krispies Treats Cereal, Smacks, and Corn Pops had mini plush versions of Sonic, Amy, Tails and Knuckles inside the cereals for a limited time.
    • In the USA and UK, Kellogg's did make a limited time cereal called "Sonic O's" that has Blue Raspberry corn cereal with Sonic and Robotnik marshmallows.
  • In a marketing stunt from April-July, Paramount had multiple street artists vandalize physical Atlantis ads and posters around 2001-2002. They drew random Sonic-related drawings and phrases. The stunt was brought back in 2004 when Home on The Range was about to release and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2004) was coming out.

DVD/VHS Home Media promotions

  • In the USA and Canada, For the home media release of Sonic the Hedgehog, for a limited time on the DVDs and VHS they did a sweepstakes giveaway called "Sonic's Prize Ring Giveaway" where if you peal the part of the DVD or VHS Peal and Win!/Instant Win Card!, The winners of the competition would earn various prizes such as a new Sony Playstation 2, Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy Advance or Paramount Revolution video game consoles with the game based on the film, Baskin Robbins Ice Cream coupons or free ice cream, A new Kia car, a trip to Universal Orlando/Florida Resort or San Francisco, cash or other prizes.

Accolades

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Cultural references

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Trivia

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