The second Sonic the Hedgehog movie is (finally) about to be released to cinemas in Japan, and there's been plenty of hype building up in the country as they get to see Sonic and Knuckles in live action. An interview with a producer at SEGA discusses the success of the first movie - and interestingly appears to suggest a release window for the upcoming Netflix series 'Sonic Prime' as well.
In a chat with media news website (and, randomly, movie/theatre ticket booking service) Pia, SEGA's producer responsible for the Sonic movie partnership with Paramount, Toru Nakahara, spoke at length about the challenges behind taking the blue blur to the silver screen.
While the producer mostly talks about his work with Paramount for the Sonic the Hedgehog movies, the article does note that, in addition to Sonic 2's release in Japan, "from December a full CG animation called "Sonic Prime" is [also] scheduled to be distributed on Netflix, and in winter the game "Sonic Frontiers" [will also release]."
It's unclear if this detail comes straight from Nakahara, or if this date only concerns the Japanese localised release, but it's the first time we have heard anything of a release window for the Netflix series, which was first announced in February 2021. Since then, we've only seen a couple of animated clips from the show and barely anything else.
So, take this with a pinch of salt as it could be the article author drawing some conclusions of their own, but the fact it's tied to a formal interview with the producer behind SEGA's key media collaborations adds weight to the detail. No doubt we'll learn more soon, when Netflix is ready to announce.
In the interview itself, Nakahara revealed some interesting details about the story behind the deal with Paramount that led to the development and release of the Sonic the Hedgehog movies. Starting with the catalyst for striking the deal in the first place, Nakahara explained that it had a lot to do with ensuring Sonic was introduced to new generations of fans.
"In 2017, the game 'Sonic Mania' was quite a hit, and I received an offer to make it into a movie," Nakahara said (via Google Translate). "The people who used to play the game - in other words, the current generation of fathers and mothers - know about Sonic, but it's unclear whether children know about Sonic.
"Therefore, if a movie were to be made here [in Japan], promotional expenses would be unimaginable at the time the game was released. I thought it was worth setting up a huge skyrocket called a 'Hollywood movie' at this time." This led to SEGA's work with Paramount, but according to the producer the collaboration was not always plain sailing, with the two companies often clashing at the start of the process.
"At the time, there were some voices saying, 'There are many examples of failed games made into movies,' or 'Aren't they going to be deceived and just take their money?' The timing of taking on new challenges coincided with the timing of film production, and in some ways SEGA's inherent 'mind of taking on new challenges' was awakened," Nakahara added.
"[Although we clashed at first], in the end, SEGA had the flexibility to change things that needed to be changed in order to have a wide range of people watch the movie, and Paramount also had an understanding and respect for video games, so it was good. We were able to come together at the right time."
In the end, it was SEGA and Paramount's unified goal of creating something for the fans that led to the project's ultimate success - and Nakahara talks a fair bit about the fact that the Sonic fanbase was key in making sure the movie was a hit.
"Many of Sonic’s fans have very loud voices. When I saw the tweets and posts, I started to think, 'Let's listen to what the fans have to say.' That's thanks to Sonic's fans. Sonic's fans draw illustrations, create videos, and are creative," Nakahara said.
"There are a lot of people who are part of the team, so I listened to the voices of the fans a lot when it came to writing the script and designing the movie, and when the fans saw it in terms of direction, they were very impressed. We wanted to make it a movie that even people who don't know anything about Sonic can enjoy, and on top of that, we wanted fans to be able to enjoy even the smallest details."