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We Now Know Much Money Paramount Spent To Fix Sonic

Just how expensive is it to give a speedy blue hedgehog a much-needed makeover?

Rumors have been flying that the price tag for the titular character's redesign for the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog live-action movie may have been, in a word, exorbitant — but reports have recently surfaced indicating that this is not exactly the case. (via IndieWire)

The first feature film adaptation for the iconic video game character has been the subject of intense focus by the entire internet since its first trailer debuted back in April. For reasons that we'll dig into in just a moment, the spot prompted widespread fan outcry, and caused studio Paramount to push back the film's release so that Sonic's character design could be completely overhauled.

A revamped trailer featuring the new design was released earlier this month, and the overwhelming majority of fans were very pleased with it. That pesky rumor mill soon kicked into gear, however, and it began spitting out unconfirmed reports that the revamp had cost Paramount a pretty penny — or, if you prefer more current nomenclature, a serious butt-load of cash. According to these reports, the redesign set the studio back a whopping $35 million dollars, which would have raised the overall budget of the $90 million dollar picture to an eye-watering $125 million dollars.

The rumors, though, turned out (prepare for a shock) not to be accurate. Sources close to the production have gone public stating that in fact, Sonic's redesign cost Paramount less than $5 million dollars total, for a simple reason: the visual effects weren't even close to being done when the flick's first trailer was released. Specifically, the only VFX shots that had been completed were the ones that appeared in that trailer, meaning that the revamp was less of a complete redo, and more of a mid-production course correction.

Sure, $5 million bucks is nothing to sneeze at — but we're guessing that the investment will pay for itself in the form of the millions of tickets that fans will buy for Sonic the Hedgehog which they would not have otherwise, because dear reader, that initial character design was an absolute nightmare.

Why was Sonic the Hedgehog redesigned in the first place?

We're very sorry to do this to you, but as a refresher — or by way of illustration, in case you missed out on the whole brouhaha — Sonic's original design, as seen above, was destined to send unfortunate viewers hurtling into the Uncanny Valley, screaming the entire way. It was the combination of the familiar, exaggerated, video game character-like traits that we're all used to with realistic, unmistakably human traits that produced this result; the disturbingly buff calves, the too-well-proportioned hands, the almost-human eyes, and those teeth... those teeth.

This was decidedly not the Sonic that longtime fans of the video game franchise had hoped to see in action; indeed, this was a horrifying CGI monstrosity that nobody in their right mind would want to see in action, and fans swiftly took to Twitter after the trailer's release to let director Jeff Fowler know exactly how they felt about it.

The intense online backlash produced an unusual, yet welcome, result: Fowler actually listened (weird, we know), and assured fans that steps would immediately be taken to correct the issue. "Thank you for the support. And the criticism," the director tweeted. "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."

Shortly thereafter, it was announced that Paramount would be pushing the movie's release date back, from November 2019 to February 2020, so that Fowler and his VFX team would have plenty of time to complete the overhaul. The Sonic fandom was overwhelmingly positive in their responses, and when the trailer featuring the new design dropped, they responded with an outpouring of gratitude normally reserved for people who show up at your door toting giant novelty checks sporting six or seven zeroes.

We must say, however, that in this case, the gratitude was warranted. Major motion picture studios aren't exactly well-known for having their big, cash-stained fingers on the pulse of what fans want, and it would have surprised nobody had Fowler and Paramount simply brushed off the criticism and offered fans half-hearted assurance that no, really guys, you're gonna love this terrifying gremlin.

That Paramount instead chose to pony up $5 million dollars just to give fans a version of Sonic that they could get behind is some kind of minor miracle. We'd even go so far as to predict that Sonic the Hedgehog may even enjoy more support, and make more money, than it would have if Sonic had just been designed properly in the first place. Fans love feeling like their voices are being heard, and as the Great Sonic Kerfuffle of 2019 has shown us, it doesn't take a Herculean effort to engender a heck of a lot of goodwill.

Sonic the Hedgehog stars Ben Schwartz (BoJack Horseman) in the title role, along with James Marsden (Westworld) as Officer Tom Wachowski, Neal McDonough (Dum Dum Dugan in the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe) as Major Bennington, and the great Jim Carrey as Dr. Ivo Robotnik. The flick will hit the big screen on February 14, 2020.