Why was Sonic the Hedgehog’s movie design changed?

How Sonic swapped Green Hill Zone for Gangsta's Paradise

Screenshots from trailers, Sonic The Hedgehog 2020 movie, before and after

Film adaptations of popular video games are very difficult to pull off, as proven by the last 25 years of panned gaming cinema.

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Numerous beloved franchises have made the leap to the big screen, from Resident Evil to Super Mario Bros, but not a single one has been able to generate anything close to critical acclaim.

However, no video game movie has stumbled as dramatically as 2020’s Sonic The Hedgehog, which had to be taken back to the drawing board altogether.

As the movie releases worldwide, here’s everything you need to know about its tumultuous journey to cinemas…

What was wrong with the original Sonic the Hedgehog movie design?

On 30th April 2019, Paramount Pictures revealed the first look at their Sonic The Hedgehog movie and got a whole lot more than they bargained for.

The trailer, bewilderingly set to Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio, featured a Sonic redesign intended to fit his transition into a live-action world.

His striking new look, which featured smaller eyes, human-like teeth and a more gaunt face, was subject to a staggeringly negative reaction from fans of the character and people prone to night terrors.

The criticism was so passionate and far-reaching that the filmmakers decided to take action, as director Jeff Fowler announced on Twitter just a few days later.

How was the Sonic design changed?

In May 2019, it was announced that Sonic The Hedgehog had been pushed back from its original release date in November to a Valentine’s Day spot in 2020.

The added time allowed animators and VFX artists to insert an entirely new Sonic into the movie, unveiling the result of their hard work in a shiny second trailer.

Do fans prefer the new Sonic design?

Sonic The Hedgehog’s second trailer went a long way towards winning back alienated fans, as Paramount had seemingly listened to their concerns and worked to resolve them.

The redesign is very similar to the character’s appearance in the video games, making it not only a more faithful adaptation but also less likely to function as nightmare fuel.

The soundtrack was also more appropriate for a children’s movie about a cheeky blue hedgehog, using music from the games rather than a song about gang violence…

What has Sonic voice actor Ben Schwartz said about the controversy?

While the volatile response to the first trailer might have scared off some actors, Sonic The Hedgehog star Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation) chose to look on the bright side.

Speaking to RadioTimes.com, Schwartz said: “The reaction was so passionate and so much bigger than we could have assumed, that it really put a new breath into this movie.”

Watch the full interview below.

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Sonic The Hedgehog is in cinemas now