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Why Sonic’s Review Embargo Should Worry Fans

Image Courtesy of Paramount Pictures (Still from SONIC THE HEDGEHOG)

Sonic the Hedgehog is already one of the most discussed films of 2020

even with weeks until its release date. A large majority of the buzz should be credited to Paramount’s superb marketing department who pulled a miraculous turn after a disastrous response to the first trailer which revealed a CGI Sonic with shining human teeth. The countless memes that emerged from the trailer still send shivers down this SEGA fan’s back. However, as important as an engaging marketing campaign is, it is ultimately the film’s quality that will have to stand against the test of the unrelenting critics whose thoughts will be published and printed nationwide once the review embargo lifts.

Fortunately, we now know when that time is thanks to Paramount’s official confirmation of the embargo with critics, and it isn’t good news for audiences excited for the raucous family adventure featuring the beloved SEGA character. The embargo is currently slated for Thursday, February 13 at 1 AM EST or 10 PM for the west coast. If the film sticks to the usual 6 PM opening night showings, there are roughly seventeen hours from when critics draw a consensus on the movie that stars Jim Carrey as a campy Dr. Ivo Robotnik to when audiences will be lining up at theater kiosks on the east coast to pick up their tickets. What this means for opening weekend audiences is that there will be far less time for them to opt-out of their ticket pre-orders or weekend plans to see the film if Sonic is panned by critics.

Image Courtesy of Paramount Pictures (Still from SONIC THE HEDGEHOG)

By the usual nature of review embargoes, excluding the 2019 spoiler- heavy juggernauts – The Rise of Skywalker and Endgame - studios tend to date a film’s embargo by whether the critical response to the film would help the final days in the marketing campaign pre-release. Late review embargoes like Sonic’s usually forebode an awful to mixed reception, while early review embargoes lifting weeks in advance generally proceed great to even outstanding reactions. A film like 1917, for instance, is a perfect example of the latter point as the World War I drama debuted wide a month after releasing its embargo to glowing praise and a week after taking home some of the biggest Golden Globe honors (Director and Drama). 1917 proceeded to sweep audiences as well, earning an A- CinemaScore, an exceptional value for the ambitious directorial feat. But most importantly, distributor Universal Pictures saw all the financial success as well, with the film grossing over two hundred million at the international box office. 1917’s success sets a 2020 precedent of how industry word-of-mouth can rocket a film to thick wads of cash and awards gold.

Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures (Still from 1917)

When comparing 1917 and Sonic the Hedgehog, it is worth pointing out that the social media embargo for Sonic hasn’t been lifted just yet, meaning that there is still a chance, if a slim one, that the film will be a critical darling like 1917 with great reviews. Sonic the Hedgehog is already one of 2020’s biggest box office risks, and while the late review embargo certainly doesn’t instill confidence, audiences will still flock to check out the cinematic incarnation of one of gaming’s greatest icons. With an industry-projected opening weekend of thirty million, Sonic the Hedgehog will go mighty fast for distributor Paramount Pictures in golden rings and dollars alike even if it is slammed by most pundits and critics.

Image Courtesy of Paramount Pictures (Still from SONIC THE HEDGEHOG)

Based on the global blockbuster videogame franchise from Sega, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG tells the story of the world’s speediest hedgehog as he embraces his new home on Earth. In this live-action adventure comedy, Sonic and his new best friend Tom (James Marsden) team up to defend the planet from the evil genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) and his plans for world domination. The family-friendly film also stars Tika Sumpter and Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic.


SONIC THE HEDGEHOG Hits Theaters on February 14, 2020.