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Sonic 2 director shares secret of how to make a good videogame movie

In our interview with Jeff Fowler, director of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, we learn how to make a good videogame movie and what Sonic's cinematic future holds

Sonic the hedgehog 2 director interview: Jeff Fowler on making a good videogame movie and the future of Sonic on the big screen

Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the sequel to the 2020 hit videogame movie, is racing its way into theatres. Telling the story of SEGA’s mascot, Sonic (Ben Schwartz), as he faces off against the evil Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) in a brand new adventure, the highly anticipated family movie is a treat for all. To celebrate the upcoming release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, we spoke with the film’s director – Jeff Fowler.

In the first Sonic the Hedgehog movie, we saw our favourite speedy blue hero save the day and banish Robotnik to a deserted mushroom planet. However, in the upcoming sequel, the villain is back in full bald-headed glory, along with a familiar red echidna, Knuckles (Idris Elba). Sonic and his new flying friend Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey) must work together to save the day and protect the ultimate power source – the Master Emerald – from Robotnik’s clutches. Fowler is no stranger to adapting games for the big screen.

Having helmed the first Sonic film, which was one of 2020’s highest grossing movies, he returns in full force to deliver an equally impressive sequel. In our interview with the director, we discuss how Sonic the Hedgehog 2 manages to be one of the few successful videogame adaptations, and learn if we may potentially see a new Sonic cinematic universe in the future.

The Digital Fix: First off, I love Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I thought it was a creative family movie full of love for the original games, which brings me to my first question. As a director, how did you avoid the trappings that we have seen in the past with less successful videogame movies?

That’s a great question. I think the first thing is, you really have to just simplify the idea to make it a great movie. I mean, obviously, Sonic comes from a videogame, there’s so much to be celebrated about the character, about the worlds, the games. Fans for 30 years, they’ve been loving this character that really, you just need to set out and just try to make a great movie. And that all comes down to character.

I think in the first film, people really related to Sonic. The film had a lot of heart; he was very relatable in terms of just being, you know, an outsider, a kid looking for friends, community, and for family. And I think that just grounded in some emotion that was relatable, sort of universally, it’s a very kind of human sort of concept.

But that being said, it’s also so great with a sequel to get to do another film to bring in other characters that fans love, like Tails and Knuckles, and just to up the stakes, and just to have a lot more fun on a much bigger scale.

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You mentioned the dedicated fanbase of Sonic and how this is really a legendary character. Again, as a filmmaker, that must have been pretty intimidating going into making the sequel. Did you feel any pressure to live up to expectations while making this movie?

I mean, we certainly got some great momentum coming out of the first film. We’re so fortunate that it was received so well around the world by audiences. They really seemed to fall in love with our movie version of Sonic and Robotnik, and the story we were telling. So I think that gave us some really great momentum in a lot of ways.

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And even just where we ended the first film, people were so excited to see Tails in that little teaser clip. I mean, I was in theatres, where they’re literally shouting at the screen, just yelling in excitement, which was great. Seeing where we left Robotnik on the far side of the universe with the bald head and the big, crazy moustache, I think it just felt like fans were on board with where we were going next.

It allowed us to kind of, you know, give them a little bit of a sense of where the story would go. And for them to have reacted so positively, I think it definitely gave us some really great momentum going into number two.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 interview director: Sonic on a building rooftop at night

Without giving too much away at the end of the film, you heavily hint that Sonic 3 is going to happen. We also know that Knuckles is getting his TV spin-off series. It seems like we’re kind of heading into a Sonic cinematic universe. Do you have any visions for building an extended world?

Ah, I mean, it’s an incredible thing to consider right now. It’s just all about getting people excited now to see Sonic 2. But yeah, I mean, the characters have been around for so long; it has such an amazing fan base. There’s so many characters, so many stories. It would be wonderful to incorporate that moving forward.

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So yeah, right now it’s just getting everybody excited about getting out to theatres, bringing their friends, their family, and having a great time. That would be so big. It’s so fine. And then yeah, and then hopefully we’ll get right to work on more, more stories.

Great. Thank you so much.

Thank you, Emma. Nice meeting you.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is set to hit theatres on April 1 in the UK and on April 8 in the US.