Ugly film Sonic changed how Hollywood makes video game movies

Loud disapproval for Sonic’s original film design has prompted far greater scrutiny within Hollywood for getting video game adaptations right.

That’s according to the company behind the now-very-successful Sonic the Hedgehog film franchise itself, Paramount Pictures.

“Every design now is vetted within an inch of its life,” marketing president Marc Weinstock told The Wall St Journal, reflecting on how Sonic was quickly redesigned after widespread upset online.

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Ugly Sonic vs New Sonic, a visual comparison of the changes.

Back in 2020, Paramount showed off our first proper look at movie Sonic, and the internet recoiled. People didn’t like the teeth. His legs were genuinely weird. Even Sonic’s creator Yuji Naka chipped in (this was before his arrest for insider trading).

“The message is loud and clear…” Sonic’s movie director Jeff Fowler admitted at the time. The movie was then delayed, and Sonic’s design changed to be far closer to the character’s appearance in his video games.

Now, the Sonic movie series has a third movie on the way, a spin-off TV series, and is set to pass the $1bn mark this year.

The Wall St Journal report states that Hollywood execs are now turning to Discord and reddit for fan feedback from game communities, as the number of video game adaptations on the big screen – and on TV – grows.

Another video game adaptation from Paramount to recently raise fan eyebrows was the Halo TV series, which eschewed the series’ long-held tradition of never showing Master Chief’s face. Not only did viewers quickly get to see Chief taking off his helmet, they also got to see him taking everything else off as well – a decision which divided fans, and even the series’ lead actor.

Speaking to The Wall St Journal, Xbox entertainment chief and Halo veteran Kiki Wolfkill admitted Microsoft had known the series would be controversial – and that the show’s second season would be closer to the games in terms of tone.

“The places where we diverged from canon were harder to swallow for fans if the execution wasn’t there and tone wasn’t there,” Wolfkill admitted.

The next big video game adaptation looks set to be the Fallout TV series, which launches on Amazon Prime next month. This appears to be sticking relatively close to its source material, with marketing that feels like it’s designed to deliberately engage fans keen to hunt for clues and Easter eggs.

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