Paramount Pictures is halting the theatrical release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and The Lost City in Russia. The move comes as sanctions against the Eastern European nation intensify, following the country’s invasion of Ukraine last week. Speaking about their decision to Variety, a spokesperson for Paramount said, “As we witness the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, we have decided to pause the theatrical release of our upcoming films in Russia, including The Lost City, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. We stand by all those impacted by the humanitarian crisis across Ukraine, Russia, and our international markets.” Paramount did not provide a timeframe for the pause but said they will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds.
This means all five major movie studios in Hollywood have officially pulled highly-anticipated films (like Sonic the Hedgehog 2) from Russia. Disney said it will be pausing releases like Pixar’s Turning Red in Russia, while Warner Bros. has already pulled The Batman. Sony followed by dropping their theatrical offerings which include Marvel’s Morbius. Universal Studios also joined in, even their next big release (Michael Bay’s Ambulance) only debuts in April. However, movies that were released before the crisis, like Sony’s Uncharted and Disney’s Death on the Nile, will still be available in theaters until the end of their licensing agreements.
In terms of profits, Russia isn’t a massive theatrical territory. But according to Variety, blockbusters like Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Venom: Let There Be Carnage earned $44 million and $32 million respectively in the country. And recent releases, Uncharted and Death on the Nile have grossed $9 million and $6.7 million since their debut in the country. So movie studios will take a financial hit for their decision to drop releasing franchise films like Sonic the Hedgehog 2. But the entertainment-related sanctions don’t end there. Early this week, Netflix said it will no longer carry Russia’s 20 free-to-air propaganda channels that they could be required to air under Russian law.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world can see the blue speedster race back to the big screen on April 8th. Directed by Jeff Fowler from a script by Pat Casey, Josh Miller, and John Whittington, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 follows the adventures of Sonic and Tails. After settling in Green Hills, Sonic is eager to prove he has what it takes to be a hero. But his true test comes when Dr. Robotnik returns with a new partner named Knuckles.
Ben Schwartz is reprising his role as the CGI blue speedster for Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Lending their voices to Knuckles the Echidna and Sonic’s sidekick Tails are Idris Elba and Colleen O’Shaughnessey respectively. The human cast includes James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, and Jim Carrey. Shemar Moore (of Criminal Minds fame) also stars in the film.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was given the green light due to the success of its predecessor. The first Sonic the Hedgehog movie premiered in early 2020 after being delayed due to fans’ unhappiness with the character’s initial design. Despite the setback, it became one of the most successful releases of that year, grossing $319.7 million worldwide. It also became the highest-grossing video game film adaptation of all time in North America.