UK Markets close in 7 hrs 32 mins

How 'Sonic the Hedgehog' overcame early design controversy for Hollywood happy ending

Kevin Polowy
Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment

Paramount's new family-friendly action adventure Sonic the Hedgehog did not get off on a good foot with fans of the iconic Sega character it's based on.

After the release of the film's first trailer in April 2019, Sonic loyalists railed against the CGI design of the anthropomorphic blue hedgehog. The creature did not particularly resemble the classic video-game character, and fans took to social media to complain about its creepy aesthetic and, especially, human teeth.

In a rare, almost unprecedented move, the filmmakers listened; director Jeff Fowler announced on Twitter only days later that the character would be redesigned — ultimately leading to a three-month delay in the film's release, from November 2019 to this Friday.

At least one cast member was right there on board with the fans.

The old Sonic design (left) versus the new one (right). (Photos: Paramount)

"I had my own misgivings when I saw the character, I had my own concerns about it and I'd given notes," Jim Carrey, who plays the villainous Sonic-hunting Dr. Robotnik, told Yahoo Entertainment (watch above).

"So when that happened, I was like, 'OK, well we're gonna get a fresh start here and it's great, because there were definitely some things that we're missing.' And Jeff Fowler was great about it — didn't even bat an eyelash. He thought, 'These guys grew up with this [character], and they deserve to have a Sonic they love.'"

Read more: Sonic creator not on board with redesign

For Ben Schwartz (who voices Sonic) and James Marsden (who plays the Montana cop who befriends the alien creature), there were major positives to glean from the feedback — namely just how many people were invested in their film.

(L-R) Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Jeff Fowler, Ben Schwartz, Sonic, Haruki Satomi, Tika Sumpter and Toby Ascher attend Sonic The Hedgehog Family Day Event, 2020. (Rachel Luna/Getty Images)

The exorbitant number of views the trailer received put a "massive" smile on Marsden's face, the X-Men alum said. "I was worried that Sonic was a character that kids and people wouldn't know that much about. … But the passion, and the amount of care that is out there for this character, this beloved character, it's nostalgic for so many people. And I was like, 'Yes, that's exactly what we want.' We want their voices heard."

Said Schwartz, who came onto the project in an early phase as the test voice for Sonic: "We weren't sure if anyone would even care about the property, because the first video game came out in '91. … But when the first trailer came out and so many people were so passionate and so vocal and so excited about just the idea that this is happening, that's when I got so excited because it would've been a different thing if it came out and nobody even cared. But we saw that there's a huge fanbase for this."

That huge fanbase responded overwhelmingly positive to the character's redesign when it was debuted in a new trailer released in November.

Now, if only the filmmakers behind Cats had been able to turn it around after that backlash, too.

Sonic the Hedgehog is in cinemas now.