9:43 AM PST 2/14/2020 by Mia Galuppo , Pamela McClintock
Paramount's Sonic the Hedgehog is zooming to a winning $55 million-plus bow at the Valentine's Day-Presidents Day box office, according to early returns.
Friday's projected earnings of $17 million will include $3 million in Thursday night previews.
So far, the film is pacing ahead of expectations. Thursday's preview gross was a solid start for the family film, a genre that does not typically pick up a lot in preview earnings, with families waiting to head to the multiplexes until the weekend. By comparison, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World made $3 million in previews before flying to a $55 million opening weekend.
The PG-rated title is based on the popular Sega video game and sees the titular character (voiced by Ben Schwartz) team up with a small-town sheriff (James Marsden) to battle the evil genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey).
The movie's original release was delayed following a fan outcry about Sonic's appearance. The studio pushed the release date to allow production time to redesign the character.
It's a busy weekend at the Valentine's Day and Presidents Day box office, with three other new nationwide releases also premiering — Universal's The Photograph, Sony's Fantasy Island and Searchlight's Downhill.
And they aren't the only competition: Warner Bros.' Birds of Prey hopes to make up ground after opening to a tepid $33 million last weekend, while Neon's Parasite is expanding into more than 2,000 theaters following its top Oscar wins.
Birds of Prey is tipped to come in No. 2 for the four-day weekend with anywhere from $17 million to $20 million.
After that, it could be a close three-way race between holdover Bad Boys for Life, The Photograph and Fantasy Island. Projections show the trio coming in between $13 million and $15 million.
Love story The Photograph, which stars Lakeith Stanfield and Issa Rae, hopes to be a big draw on Valentine's Day.
Sony and the Blumhouse-produced Fantasy Island, a horror reimagining of the classic television series, hopes to be a big draw among teenagers and younger adults.
Searchlight's Downhill, an English-language remake of Force Majeure that stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell, is on course for a muted four-day debut in the $5 million to $6 million range.
Parasite — which first opened in early November — is projected to earn more than $4 million over the long holiday weekend as it approaches the $40 million mark in the U.S., one of the best showings ever for a foreign-language film (some even show Parasite beating Downhill).
Feb. 14, 12:45 p.m.: Updated with revised weekend estimates.