One of the biggest stories of late is the negative reactions to the design of Sonic in the new Sonic The Hedgehog film. The backlash has led to the studio tweeting that they will go back to the drawing board for the blue speedster. The film’s director, Jeff Fowler, tweeted:
“Thank you for the support. And the criticism. The message is loud and clear… you aren’t happy with the design & you want changes. It’s going to happen. Everyone at Paramount & Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be… #sonicmovie #gottafixfast”
While I admire the studio’s calm and audience-friendly response, I wonder if this is affecting the art of filmmaking itself. Not to say that I do not agree, I would love a more classic looking Sonic in the movie. That being said, the new Sonic design does not look so bad to me. I fear this is becoming all too common, though. The same uproar came with Will Smith’s Genie reveal in the first Aladdin teaser released by Disney. Did it look perfect? No, but it’s just the first cut and maybe that is how they wanted it to look. A later trailer showed not much change to the Genie, but seeing him in more scenes and possibly closer to his final product proved fruitful. It makes me wonder if negative energy will start affecting a bunch of movies, causing re-edits or re-shoots. So many movies get damaged when just the studio makes a director stray from their vision and re-shoot a bunch of scenes. Whether you would have loved the original product or not, it had one cohesive flow and idea that wasn’t muddied by last minute changes.
Justice League, Solo: A Star Wars Story and Fant4stic are all examples of films that might’ve had a less divisive reception had they just stuck to their guns and painted the intended picture of the director. That was just studio notes, now we are taking fan notes into account? I know screen testing has been used for years to modify films and tweak stories. However, I think just because twitter thinks something is dumb, you shouldn’t have to redesign the leading character of your entire film. It is the same issue I took with Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. I’m so glad it wasn’t some big film revolution that companies will be copying. The idea that a director might need to come up with many alternatives to a story to please an audience that might want a different outcome is kind of crazy to me.
I’m sure the Sonic movie will benefit from the change. I am not saying I like the first design, I am saying that this can bleed into a culture that already judges whether they see a film or not based on Rotten Tomato Scores. In a culture where making fun of things or being a contrarian is rewarded, is it wise the adjust our art to this? I am interested to see how he will look because I don’t think his video game design will translate well. Don’t let this distract you from the fact that, even if the movie sucks, we are getting primetime zany Jim Carrey like the old days.
Do you think it is smart to let the internet dictate a director’s vision? Do you like the idea of consumers having a say in the product’s development?