The big race this weekend is between Sonic the Hedgehog and the CG-animated dog featured in the Harrison Ford-starring feature Call of the Wild. The two movies will be fighting for the top spot in theaters nationwide.
Call of the Wild, which is loosely based on the popular book by Jack London, is the newcomer to the scene. The pic is directed by none other than animation veteran Chris Sanders, who is best known for directing popular movies such as Lilo & Stitch, How to Train Your Dragon and The Croods. The family picture is a retelling of the 1903 adventure novel about a kind prospector and a dog named Buck who bond during the Yukon Gold Rush. Insiders are predicting that the Disney release (a former Fox feature) will land in the No. 2 spot, with $15 million to $20 million first week. The film’s visual effects were handled by Moving Picture Company, Soho VFX and Technoprops.
Call of the Wild is currently scoring 67% on rottentomatoes.com, with most critics praising Ford’s performance, but questioning the decision to use a CG-animated dog instead of a real canine as in previous adaptations of the property. As Joe Morgenstern of Wall Street Journal notes, “We project our feelings on real dogs, in life or on the screen, because we love them for their limitations as well as their abilities. Buck is so precocious, such a relentlessly clever construction, that he leaves nothing to our imagination. ” Meanwhile, Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times writes, “This Call of the Wild, however defanged and updated, doesn’t lack for exciting canine brawls or tense rescues from frozen waters. It also doesn’t lack for an almost soothing corniness.”
“Even with Harrison Ford at his droll, grumpy old-man best, this new version of Jack London’s classic man-meets-dog adventure digitizes its canine hero and loses something vital in this process,” writes Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers. Matthew Dougherty of IGN Movies notes, “Bad CGI takes away everything real about the relationship between man and dog in this inherently flawed, technically focused adaptation of Jack London’s age-old classic.”
That’s why chances of Paramount’s surprise hit Sonic the Hedgehog staying in the top spot this weekend are very high. The movie registered the highest opening for a video-game adaptation of all time last weekend, and is expected to make anywhere between $28 million to $30 million and bring its cume to $100 million this weekend.