Just days after releasing the first official trailer for “Sonic the Hedgehog,” the film’s director took to social media to try and assuage disgruntled fans.
The less than three minute trailer, which debuted on Tuesday, was widely criticized on Twitter, Reddit and other social platforms for its tone and the character design of the titular character.
Longtime fans of the speedy blue hedgehog found the character’s facial features, including human-like teeth, and his body proportions to be inconsistent with the Sonic they grew up with in the ’90s.
“April fools was 29 days ago. You guys missed your chance Paramount,” one user commented on the YouTube video of the trailer.
This wasn’t the first sign that fans were unhappy with the character design, either. When Paramount released the one of the official promotional posters for the film, fans griped about the strange length of Sonic’s legs, expressing worry about what the full character would look like.
These criticisms were taken to heart by Paramount and Sega, the company behind the character. On Thursday, director Jeff Fowler said “the message is loud and clear.”
“You aren’t happy with the design & you want changes,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s going to happen. Everyone at Paramount & Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be.”
“This demonstrates the power of social media and the value it can bring to filmmakers and studios in terms of providing direct feedback from the fans who, at the end of the day, are the folks you ultimately want to please,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said.
“This type of organic social media based conversation provides de facto real time market research and, when respectful and constructive, can be highly valuable to studios and producers looking to get the best results from their films,” he said.
It’s unclear exactly how Fowler plans on fixing the character, especially considering the film is due out in theaters in November, less than six months away.
Paramount Pictures and Blur Studios did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. Paramount is owned by Viacom, which saw its stock down around 2 percent on Friday.
The filming budget for “Sonic” is estimated to be around $90 million, but going back and changing the CGI animation could be quite costly for the production company.
Not only do artists have to redesign elements of the character, but they also have to reinsert it into every scene of the likely already completed film and then render it, which takes a lot of computing power and time.
“I have to give the studio and director credit for running the cost benefit analysis and, for the good of the movie and the fans, making the changes,” Dergarabedian said.
It also doesn’t help Paramount that the “Sonic” trailer arrives just as Warner Bros. has been receiving praise for its character design for the upcoming “Detective Pikachu” due out next week.
“Detective Pikachu” has been lauded for its realistic CGI animation and for creating authentic (and cute) iterations of beloved Pokemon creatures.
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