Potential disaster to box office hit: Jeff Fowler saved ‘Sonic’

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"Sonic the Hedgehog" director Jeff Fowler. Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

In the new movie “Sonic the Hedgehog,” the famously fast Sega video game character is forced out of his home planet and stranded among human beings on earth. 

As a blue alien hedgehog, Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) knows he should stay hidden. But his presence is accidentally revealed, and Sonic is hunted by authorities who want to dissect him. Sonic turns to small-town cop Tom Wachowski, played by James Marsden. 

From there, “Sonic the Hedgehog” turns into a buddy road trip movie, but making “Sonic” was another kind of trip altogether. 

When the first trailer landed last spring, fans immediately hated Sonic’s big-screen appearance, especially his human-looking teeth and strange proportions. 

Paramount -- which really needed a hit -- pushed the release date from November 2019 to February 2020, and the Sonic character underwent a major redesign. 

Still, it looked like “Sonic” might be another failed attempt to turn a popular video game into a movie. But when critics reviewed the finished film, they were pleasantly surprised.

In its first two weeks, “Sonic” scored more than $100 million at the domestic box office and another $100 million internationally. 

“Sonic the Hedgehog” is director Jeff Fowler's first feature. He’s spent his whole career at Blur, the effects house and production company run by Tim Miller. Listeners of The Business may remember Miller has been on the show twice, first as the director of “Deadpool” and more recently to do a post-mortem on his second film, “Terminator: Dark Fate.” Miller was an executive producer on “Sonic.” 

For Fowler, making “Sonic” follows a long relationship with the speedy blue hedgehog. He tells us about loving the video game as a kid, the difficult morning when he realized fans were horrified with the look of Sonic in his first trailer, and how he gave the blue guy a super speedy “glow-up.”

Credits

Guest:
Jeff Fowler - Director of “Sonic the Hedgehog" - @fowltown

Host:
Kim Masters

Producer:
Kaitlin Parker