OPINION: Sonic, Harbinger of Increasing Audience Influence

Paramount Studios give hope that audiences have more sway than they think.


Paramount Studios

Sonic’s transformation can be thanked to immense fan backlash to the originally debuted design.

Wednesday, a new trailer for the Sonic movie dropped, officially the International Trailer #1 – because the real first trailer met huge backlash.

Six months ago, Paramount dropped a trailer showcasing the 90’s video game phenomenon and icon to the tune of Gangster’s Paradise, and saw vicious backlash for not only the ill-fitting song choice, but also what seemed to be a grotesque depiction of the titular hedgehog.

The critiques included Sonic’s model looking disproportionate, to the realistic portrayal hitting the uncanny valley, and the adaption itself being unfaithful to the epochal design. While a substantial amount of backlash came from a small minority of hardcore Sonic fans, the trailer went viral and general audiences found the design disturbing at best.

“Making a cartoon character live-action just doesn’t work, and [the original Sonic movie design] is too realistic.” says casual fan and freshman, Matthaus Gross.

The original trailer saw massive mockery and the release of countless memes ridiculing the design of Sonic. However, director Jeff Fowler brought in longtime artist for the Archie Sonic comics, Tyson Hesse. Over the course of the past few months, he has completely redesigned the blue dash and his efforts resulted in the release of a second trailer with the redesign, which is more faithful to the original design of Sonic and is quintessentially cartoonish.

Effectively, Paramount met a fan outcry to the design of their movie, and completely overhauled the money spent on CGI and character art to please their audiences.

That’s right, a movie company sought to please their audiences.

Historically, it is very rare to see any corporation making a change to please their fans. No video game movie has ever been completely accurate to the source material, and no movie fears to stray from what they’re adapting. Video game movies are particularly infamous for drifting far away from their source materials: the first video game movie, Super Mario Bros., garnered a reputation for being one of the worst movies ever produced in general, let alone one of the worst adaptations.

Paramount has deviated from the typical action of cinema, and has actually made a massive change to their movie. Seemingly learning from history, they seek a movie that could be critically appraised, and listening to audiences is an excellent first step.

Unarguably, however, all companies seek to make a profit. Paramount Studios believed that the cost to completely redo the CGI (which is a very expensive process) for the movie would be made up for by the profits of a movie which met fan expectations. This is a monumental revelation, as it shows the gravity of fan opinions and audience expectations. Cinema isn’t just controlled by the producers, but it can be affected by the consumers as well. Though this seems simple, it is easy to feel one’s critiques are meaningless in the face of outdated studies of what consumers want on the big screen.

Hollywood is reacting to backlash, and rather than stepping over criticisms, Paramount proves that they will attack this panning head-on to produce a movie that we, the consumers, actually desire.

Though the Sonic movie could go in any direction, Paramount has brought good news to the industry for us moviegoers.