Detective Pikachu is heading into theaters next week with impressive reviews and plenty of buzz, but another video game-inspired live-action CGI movie is struggling to appease fans months ahead of its planned release date.
After the initial trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog was almost universally panned for his off-putting human teeth, (and hands, and face, and basically everything about the hedgehog), director Jeff Fowler promised to redesign the character just seven months before the movie’s November release. But in an interview, Detective Pikachu director Rob Letterman called the Sonic overhaul “impossible,” at least based on his own experience creating a live-action Pokémon movie packed full of CGI characters.
“In my world that would have been impossible,” Letterman tells Inverse. “I spent a year designing pikachu before shooting.”
“I don’t know, I feel for those guys,” he continued. “I don’t approach visual effects that way. I try to make Pikachu as if we were building a creature on set that we would use to film. We worked really hard to get all our Pokémon done so they would be represented on set. So it all fit and performances were right.”
Detective Pikachu also benefits from being shot on film (rather than digitally), giving the movie a more realistic look. The director says he avoided green screens as much as possible, and even brought Ryan Reynolds, who voices Pikachu, onto the set for several key scenes.
Letterman added that one of the biggest issues facing Fowler and the rest of the team working on Sonic the Hedgehog could be how redesigning the main character will alter the human performances in the movie.
“I mean eye-lines, right,” he said. “I wouldn’t even know… If I changed Pikachu by two inches, performances would be out the window.”
Fowler hasn’t commented on exactly how the studio plans to alter Sonic’s design. On Twitter, he simply stated that “everyone at Paramount & Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be.”
In an interview with Newsweek before Fowler promised to redesign Sonic, Detective Pikachu cinematographer John Mathieson (Gladiator, Logan) also criticized the blue blur’s design and the look of the trailer in general.
“Funny enough, I was offered [Sonic the Hedgehog] and after watching the trailer I thought I’m so glad we don’t look like that,” Mathieson said.
Letterman was more diplomatic. After learning about the plans for Sonic’s redesign and expressing concern, he was careful to note that he’s still rooting for the rival video game movie.
“I don’t wanna bag on the Sonic guys,” Letterman said. “That would be terrible, and I know a couple of those guys. So, you caught me. I was blindsided by that.”
Detective Pikachu hits theaters on May 10. Sonic the Hedgehog is planned to release on November 8, 2019.