Paramount Pictures may have finally cracked the code on how to successfully bring a video game character to the big screen.
"Sonic the Hedgehog" burst into theaters over the weekend, hauling in an estimated $57 million Friday through Sunday domestically, the highest opening of any video game movie adaption in film industry history.
The record domestic debut was much higher than the $35 million to $45 million that analysts had projected.
In the past, Hollywood has had trouble transitioning video game characters from their consoles to cinemas. Only three adaptations have garnered "Fresh" ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and none of them have garnered more than $500 million worldwide.
"Video game-based movies have had a tough time gaining consistent mainstream acceptance while simultaneously filmmakers have clearly struggled with properly adapting the storyline, characters and iconography that made them so popular and turning them into big screen blockbusters," Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said.
"Sonic the Hedgehog" likely benefited from Paramount Pictures ditching the film's initial release date of Nov. 2019 so it could make some much needed changes to the design of its animated main character. Fans balked at the not-so-familiar and, frankly, creepy Sonic the studio had first revealed in trailers.
Fans were much happier with the redesign, praising the studio and "Sonic" director Jeff Fowler for making the massive change.
"That admirable (and business savvy) decision to listen to the fans indeed paid huge dividends at the box-office this weekend and also shows the power of social media to affect artistic change," Dergarabedian said.
The film was one of the only family films in theaters during the holiday weekend, likely helping to boost its opening take. With many schools closed on Monday, "Sonic the Hedgehog" is expected to haul in around $68 million for the full holiday weekend, higher than the $50 million to $60 million that was forecast.
The second-highest turn at the box office this weekend went to Warner Bros. "Birds of Prey." The DC extended universe film added another $17.1 million to its tally, bringing its total domestic haul to $59.2 million through Sunday. Globally, the flick has made $142.9 million.
Sony and Blumhouse's "Fantasy Island" opened with $12.4 million through Sunday in North America, the third-highest haul of the weekend. And Universal's latest film "The Photograph" garnered $12.2 million.
Rounding out the top five films of the weekend is "Bad Boys For Life," which tacked on an additional $11.3 million through Sunday, bringing its domestic gross to $181.3 million.
Disclosure: Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC, owns Rotten Tomatoes.