Weekend Box Office Forecast: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 May Break Out as Ambulance and Everything Everywhere All at Once Counter-Program (Updated)

Photo Credits: Paramount Pictures ("Sonic the Hedgehog 2"); Universal Pictures & Roberto De Angelis ("Ambulance"); A24 Films ("Everything Everywhere All at Once")

Friday Update: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is off to an excellent running start with $6.25 million from domestic previews on Wednesday and Thursday.

Comparisons are apples and oranges with non-traditional Wednesday previews in the mix, plus the lack of family-driven titles recently, but for context that figure outstrips the recent takes of Morbius ($5.7 million) and Uncharted ($3.7 million), both of which played on Thursday only. The first Sonic took in $3.0 million from Thursday-only shows in February 2020 as part of its $58 million opening frame.

While Paramount has not confirmed, all indications are that the bulk of Sonic 2‘s $6.25 million was earned on Thursday evening. Unofficial sources report that share is between $4.5 million and $5 million.

For the weekend, all now depends on how many families turnout following the initial fan rush. Unlike the aforementioned comparisons, Sonic 2 leans more on general family audiences than most films that have opened during the pandemic thus far.

For additional pre-pandemic context, Jumanji: The Next Level bowed to $4.7 million from Thursday previews as part of a $59.3 million opening weekend in December 2019.

Additionally, Ambulance opened to $700K last night, on par with expectations. For comparison, that matched Moonfall‘s $700K earlier this year.

Read below for the prior forecast and analysis driving expectations behind this weekend.

Wednesday Report: Spring movie season is hitting high gear as this weekend promises the widest variety of new content to hit domestic cinemas so far in 2022.

Leading the charge will undoubtedly be Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in what’s increasingly looking like another breakout performance for the video game-adapted franchise. It’s the first major release to make waves with family audiences in pre-release tracking since Sing 2 and Encanto over the holidays last year, and pent-up demand could drive it even higher than previously expected.

Sonic 2‘s release presents something of a potential bookend for exhibitors and moviegoers. The first film’s excellent run was blunted by the beginning of the pandemic and closure of theaters just over two years ago. That pic, which set a video game adaptation record with a $58 million three-day domestic bow, was well-liked by both fans and young audiences. With an early at-home release prompted by the health crisis in early 2020, the film continued to expand its legion of fans.

Now, the sequel is bringing things full circle. Sentiment among families has remained the most challenging to adapt for in forecasts throughout the pandemic recovery period, with mothers and adult women in general the most cautious to return to cinemas. The latter demographic drove The Lost City to a strong $30.5 million debut just last month, though, indicating another significant step in the right direction for the overall rebound of diverse moviegoing segments.

Sonic 2 is now another litmus test, and unlike the aforementioned Sing 2 and Encanto, it doesn’t have a new COVID-19 variant (Omicron, in late 2021) dominating headlines. In fact, the state of the pandemic has largely waned both in terms of virus cases as well as the overall sentiment of society with most people resuming pre-pandemic activities — including going to the movies.

With pent-up demand, robust pre-sales, and a final pre-release marketing corridor that has driven models to the high end of prior forecasts (and beyond), Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is perfectly positioned as the family event of spring with its cross-section of older video game fans and younger kids who have just discovered the pop culture icon in recent years.

This is another theatrically exclusive play for Paramount, a strategy that’s worked wonders for them with the likes of the aforementioned Lost City, Jackass Forever, and Scream just within the past few months, not to mention last year’s A Quiet Place Part II.

Combined with that long brewing demand for a movie that could bring back parents and kids again, or even the first time, since the pandemic began, this sequel has steadily seen its tracking profile pull off a rarity for kid-driven sequels by matching and often exceeding the trends of its predecessor.

With a significant presence in premium screens like Dolby, 4DX, ScreenX, and others, Paramount expects around $50 million for the domestic opening frame. Sonic 2 begins sneak previews on Wednesday, followed by traditional Thursday previews beginning at 3pm nationwide.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 previously opened to $26.1 million internationally from just 31 markets last weekend.

In a counter-programming move reminiscent of the “before times”, Universal and A24 are providing the oft-discussed variety of content this weekend with Michael Bay’s Ambulance and the Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All at Once.

The former is Bay’s first theatrical release as a director since 2017’s Transformers: The Last Knight, and his first non-IP flick since 2016’s 13 Hours. The filmmaker did make 6 Underground for Netflix since then, which is a valid point to mention in the debate over which types of films will bring back moviegoers right now.

Ambulance hasn’t quite reached the high ends of our projected models from last month, although that’s largely a side effect of this being the first “crowded” weekend of the year amid an evolving consumer climate. Reviews are mostly positive, though, and Universal’s marketing has done a fine job reaching its target male audience with significant promotion during major sporting events over the past few months. Pre-sales are trending slightly ahead of the far more expensive Moonfall.

Competition from fellow new content is a factor here. Many young and older males will be focused on Sonic 2 this weekend, and with no IP to help sell Ambulance, Bay’s latest is likely to be a slow burner at the box office rather than a smash-and-grab opener unless walk-up sales beat current extrapolations. The film has an IMAX presence, playing to the point of being a film made for the big screen, and is certain to be a walk-up type of moviegoing decision for much of its audience.

Universal expects around $10 million this weekend. Previews begin Thursday evening.

Last but not least, Everything Everywhere is hot off its platform expansion with over $1.8 million earned from just 38 venues through last weekend. The film boasts some of the best critics’ and audience scores of any A24 film to date, and the studio’s loyal fan base should turn out as the film goes into semi-wide release at an estimated 1,200 locations with snowballing buzz across the social sphere.

This is again another part of the litmus test with Everything Everywhere having appeal to varied demographics. How much the film can expand beyond A24’s niche viewer base and into the mainstream will depend on the current market’s ability to support this level of new content on the same weekend, something untested since last year. The crossover appeal isn’t extreme, but there’s enough worth noting.

Either way, expect another strong expansion for the film this weekend that could potentially convince A24 and exhibitors to grant a true wide release at some point in the weeks ahead.

Weekend Forecast Ranges

Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Opening Weekend Range: $60 — 75 million

Opening Weekend Range: $9.5 — 14 million

Everything Everywhere All at Once
Semi-Wide Opening Weekend Range: $5 — 7.5 million

Weekend Forecast & Location Counts

Boxoffice projects between a 38 to 58 percent increase for this weekend’s top ten films from last weekend’s $76.8 million top ten aggregate. 

Overall, this look to be just the second time in 2022 that the domestic top ten will generate over $100 million combined (previously accomplished on The Batman‘s opening weekend.)

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, April 10 Location Count Projection (as of Wednesday) % Change from Last Wknd
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Paramount Pictures $65,000,000 $65,000,000 ~4,232 NEW
Ambulance Universal Pictures $11,400,000 $11,400,000 ~3,400 NEW
Morbius Sony Pictures / Columbia $11,300,000 $57,600,000 ~4,268 -71%
The Lost City Paramount Pictures $9,100,000 $68,500,000 ~3,600 -38%
The Batman Warner Bros. $6,600,000 $359,100,000 ~3,300 -40%
Everything Everywhere All at Once A24 $6,000,000 $6,000,000 ~1,200 +460%
Uncharted Sony Pictures / Columbia $2,100,000 $142,200,000 ~2,300 -43%
Spider-Man: No Way Home Sony Pictures / Columbia & Marvel Studios $900,000 $804,100,000 ~1,100 -38%
Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie Funimation $775,000 $31,200,000 ~1,000 -61%
Dog United Artists Releasing $725,000 $61,400,000 ~1,100 -45%

*All forecasts are subject to revision before the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.

Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studiosThe above table does not necessarily represent the top ten as some studios do not finalize weekend location counts and/or an intent to report box office returns prior to publishing.

Photo Credits: Paramount Pictures ("Sonic the Hedgehog 2"); Universal Pictures & Roberto De Angelis ("Ambulance"); A24 Films ("Everything Everywhere All at Once")
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