'Sonic the Hedgehog 2' Conquers Weekend Box Office With $71M; 'Ambulance' Brings In $8.5M

Zinger Key Points
  • “Everything Everywhere All at Once” cracks box office top five in wider release.
  • Is Alexander Skarsgård too handsome for his own good?

“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” roared out of the gate to take a striking command of the U.S. box office, generating $71 million from 4,234 theaters for Paramount PARAA during its premiere weekend engagement.

What Happened: The new film outpaced the opening box office returns for its predecessor, which took in $57 million during the opening over the President’s Day weekend in 2020. The original “Sonic the Hedgehog” grossed $319.7 million worldwide during its 2020 theatrical release and was the year’s sixth highest grossing film. 

While “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” was on the rise, last week’s top grossing film went into a steep popularity decline – “Morbius” from Sony Pictures SONY was the weekend’s second top grossing film with $10 million from 4,268 screens, a steep drop from its $40.8 million weekend premiere. Also running out of steam was Paramount’s “The Lost City,” which fell to third place with $9.1 million from 3,797 screens for its third week in theaters.

The weekend’s biggest negative surprise was the dismal performance of Michael Bay’s “Ambulance” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, which premiered in fourth place with $8.5 million in ticket sales from 3,412 screens. Just why this release from Comcast Corporation’s CMSCA Universal fared so poorly is unclear, considering reviews have been mostly strong and the film has been heavily promoted.

On the flip side, the weekend’s biggest surprise was the fifth place finish to A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” with $6 million in ticket sales from 1,250 screens. The science-fiction comedy starring Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis has been in limited release for the last two weekends before expanding into a much wider rollout, albeit one that is still much smaller than its competition. 

What Happens Next: For the coming week, two new films will be going into nationwide release. On April 13, Mark Wahlberg stars in “Father Stu,” a biopic about convict-turned-priest Father Stuart Long. Mel Gibson and Jacki Weaver play Wahlberg’s parents in this Sony release.

On April 15, the Harry Potter franchise returns with “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” from AT&T’s T Warner Bros., with Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore, Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander and Mads Mikkelsen as Gellert Grindelwald.

April 15 will also see several films opening in limited release, including Vertical Entertainment’s “To Olivia,” a biopic on the marriage of author Roald Dahl (played by Hugh Bonneville) and actress Patricia Neal (played by Keeley Hawes); IFC Films' French import “Paris, 13th District” from award-winning director Jacques Audiard; and The Cinema Guild’s release of the off-beat drama “The Girl and the Spider” from the Swiss sibling filmmakers Ramon and Silvan Zürcher.

Also Happening: Actor Alexander Skarsgård is complaining that being handsome and jacked has been a career liability.

“I don’t really know if that was the reason I wasn’t getting roles,” Skarsgård said in a recent Sunday Times interview. “Starting out in Sweden, there was stuff about being tall and blond. But most people here are tall and blond. Still, after my first job, I was on a stupid ‘sexy hunky hot list’ and then people didn’t take me seriously.”

But maybe Skarsgård was being a little hard on himself. After all, the 45-year-old actor won an Emmy Award for “Big Little Lies” and last year he received critical praise for “Passing,” where he presented a startling portrait of an unapologetic racist who discovers he is married to a light-skinned Black woman who has been passing for White. But he insisted snagging roles of that caliber was not easy for him.

“If you want characters with depth but have been labeled ‘a dude who takes his shirt off,’ you’re not going to get those offers,” Skarsgård said.

Of course, Skarsgård didn’t seem to have a problem taking on roles that required a “sexy hunky hot” guy, in the 2016 action film “The Legend of Tarzan” and in his next production “The Northman,” which opens April 22 – in both movies, Skarsgård spends a good deal of time minus his shirt, a situation that seems to keep him on camera despite his protests to the contrary.

Photo: "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," courtesy of Paramount.

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