As you might expect from the lightning-fast blue hedgehog, the Sonic movie franchise is picking up speed. After Sonic the Hedgehog 2 opened to over $70 million domestically earlier this year, on its way to $400 million worldwide, a third film was inevitable. What was more surprising was the date that third film selected and the guts it took to take it.
As announced on Monday, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 will hit theaters December 20, 2024. It’s a prime holiday release date that should give the film room to play not just through the end of the year, but into the following one. It’s such a prime release date, in fact, that Disney has been sitting on it for several years, currently earmarking it with James Cameron’s Avatar 3. So, as it stands, on December 20, 2024, the blue hedgehog will be showing down with the blue Na’vi people of the planet, Pandora.
This is a big deal. Don’t forget, Avatar is the highest grossing film ever. Period. Its grossed over $2.8 billion globally, more than any Star Wars or Marvel film. Plus, it’s being rereleased on September 23, so it will inch even closer to the previously unimaginable number of $3 billion. (It’s not going to gross the $250 million necessary to hit three billion, but still, it’s impressive.) That’s all leading up to the December 16 release of Avatar: The Way of Water, Cameron’s long-awaited sequel. A film that everyone is so confident will be a mega-hit, it’s allowed the filmmaker to work on a sequel years before release.
So, that Sonic landed on that date, after releasing the previous two films in February and January respectively, is kind of shocking. The company could have easily said “January 2025" and no one would have blinked. But no, it said “We’re going up against Avatar” in a move that’s either a huge vote of confidence in Sonic, a huge slap in the face to Avatar, or maybe a bit of both. It’s staggeringly brazen, especially when you realize Avatar and Sonic are both going after that same four-quadrant family audience. One is sure to siphon off the other. But which will win? (If this happens, of course. Release dates tend to change a lot. Especially Avatars.)
There’s also the very off chance that December 2024 sees the release of a new Star Wars movie. No, it’s not on the schedule at the moment. But for years Disney’s plan has been to swap Avatar and Star Wars films each Christmas from 2022 forward. It starts this year with Avatar, but it’s looking less and less likely that a new Star Wars movie will be ready for 2023. Could it then come out in 2024? What would that mean for Avatar? Who knows.
What we do know is that Sonic the Hedgehog is ready to take on any of them. A statement no one could have predicted just a few years ago.
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