The Sonic Movie That Almost Happened

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sonic the hedgehog 2 is a highly anticipated film for many reasons. This movie isn’t just a big deal for fans of the fast-talking Sega mascot video game, but also for anyone who wants a 2020s sequel. sonic the hedgehogwhich is by far one of the best video game movies released in the last thirty years.

In the mid-’90s, however, Sonic was originally supposed to star in a completely different live-action/animated hybrid movie that would tie into a canceled entry in his long-running video game franchise. While author Luke Owen previously wrote about this film in his 2017 history book we are here to analyze the details of the making of Sonic the Hedgehog: Wonders of the World and determine if the end product would have even been good.

Where did it all start?

Early development for this Sonic movie began in 1992 when Sega of America hired Marvel’s Michealene Risley as director of entertainment and consumer products. After striking a deal with ABC to produce two animated Sonic shows, Risley thought the next logical step was to bring Sega’s flagship character to the big screen. Although this idea was rebuffed by Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske, who believed that bad video game movies like Super Mario Bros. could do major damage to their respective brands, the company went ahead with a Sonic feature anyway and teamed up with MGM and Trilogy Entertainment in August 1994 to make it happen.

Risley then asked screenwriter Richard Jefferies to pitch a Sonic movie. Jefferies’ past works include the 1992 horror comedy The Vagabond and one not produced Silver Surfer movie. Risley had worked with Jefferies on the latter, which may explain why he was his first choice to write a Sonic movie. What makes this project even more interesting is that Sega wanted this movie to tie in and be released alongside their upcoming video game, Sonic Xtreme. While movie-related video games are nothing new, a video game-related movie is virtually unheard of even to this day. Nonetheless, Jefferies consulted with several members of the Sega Technical Institute, including lead programmer Yuji Naka, when writing the treatment for Sonic the Hedgehog: Wonders of the World.

What would the film have been about?

Split image of Sonic X-Treme cover art and a screenshot from the video game.

Most people would expect a Sonic movie to revolve around Sonic, but that’s only half the truth for Sonic the Hedgehog: Wonders of the World. Instead, Jefferies’ storyline is mostly about a 12-year-old divorcee named Josh Pinski, who must complete his school assignment on a speed barrier-breaking test driver named Sonic the next morning or “his parents will be called in .”

Josh’s father is a brilliant but unemployed computer scientist named Hal who invented an artificial intelligence computer capable of projecting holograms called eXtremely Radical Intelligence or XRI (that movie was written in the 90s, after all). Going against his father’s wishes, Josh asks the XRI to finish his article, but the XRI does not recognize Sonic’s name. Instead of giving general information about the test pilot, Josh plugs in his Sega Saturn and starts playing. Sonic Xtreme. This causes the XRI to transport Sonic to the real world alongside Dr. Robotnik and his henchmen.

Robotnik later recruits Hal to use the XRI to create a virtual reality theme park. The fact that everything in the park is free attracts the attention of many town kids, who are replaced by slavish Kinder-Bot replicas while the real kids are forced to dig under the town for “one on one”. million Chaos Emeralds”. which, for some reason, exist in the real world. It’s all part of Robotnik’s plan to use the Chaos Emerald-powered XRI to holographically project the Eight Wonders of the World and reap the benefits, hence the movie’s title.

The third act sees Josh and Sonic lure Robotnik into the game world where he would be defeated. Josh returns to the real world while Sonic stays behind, believing he is the only one who can protect his world. Hal decides the XRI is too dangerous to be reused, but instead of destroying it, Josh simply stores it somewhere, presumably to set up sequels if the first movie proves to be a hit.

Why was the film canceled?

sonic mania

Jefferies submitted his Sonic script in May 1995 to mostly positive feedback from MGM and Sega. However, the latter’s COO Shinobu Toyoda believed that Jefferies should replace Robotnik with a new villain that Sonic fans wouldn’t know about, while Risley fought to keep Robotnik in the film. Unfortunately, MGM severed ties with Sega before the film could continue in development.

Sega let Jefferies buy the script from other studios, so they took it to Dreamworks because there were already connections. Unfortunately, the neophyte studio dropped the project because they were looking for “low-cost IP” and Sonic, which was still popular in the mid to late 90s, was too expensive to support.

The final nail in the coffin for Sonic the Hedgehog: Wonders of the World that was when Sega officially canceled Sonic Xtreme in early 1997. Other reasons have been attributed to this film’s implosion, including creative differences and money disputes between MGM and Sega, but even fixing those issues probably wouldn’t have saved the movie. film.

Would the film have succeeded?

Sonic escapes death

Even though the plot details for Sonic the Hedgehog: Wonders of the World make it sound like a more modern Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (minus creativity and originality), the movie still may not have worked out – at least not financially. While many ideas of Wonders of the world would continue in 2020 Sonic movie, including a fully CG-animated Sonic in the real world, they would have been a bit too demanding to pull off in the mid-90s. For reference, the first toy story was fully CG animated and cost $30 million in 1995. Imagine how much money a live-action Sonic movie with a CG-animated character, which was also to come out with a Sonic video game, would have cost in that era? Also, while Roger Rabbit was a financial success in 1988, further attempts at a similar live-action/animated hybrid were met with critical derision and public indifference at the box office. Remember cool world?

Luckily, Sega would have more success with a Sonic movie in 2020, which became the highest-grossing video game film to date and spawned a sequel that seeks to bring more elements of the game. Plus, Paramount is so confident in 2022 sonic the hedgehog 2 that they’ve already fired up a third movie as well as a spin-off series for their Paramount+ streaming service around Idris Elba’s Knuckles the Echidna, which will make its theatrical debut in Sonic the hedgehog 2. While it’s interesting to wonder what might have been, MGM’s Sonic movie died in the 1990s so Paramount’s Sonic movie franchise could live on in the 2020s, when public tastes and technology could fully realize the potential of a big screen hedgehog saving the world. from a guy named Eggman.

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