The action-comedy movie Sonic the Hedgehog is a box-office hit since its release on Valentine’s Day, and Surrey shared in some love of movie-making economic impact back in 2018.
Based on the Sega video-game character, the Paramount Pictures film co-stars Jim Carrey, who was at Joe Brown Park for filming.
“It was a substantial part of the movie, with an armoured semi-trailer truck that drove out onto the softball field,” said James Monk, the City of Surrey’s filming manager. “It was so heavy that we had to get the ground professionally checked to see if it could support the weight of the truck.”
Scenes from the park are shown in the original trailer for the film, from April 2019.
“Residents probably wouldn’t recognize it as Joe Brown Park, but I do, and I saw the whole setup there,” Monk recalled. “That first trailer was released and they went back to the drawing board and released another one. The animation of Sonic wasn’t quite right and they had some push-back about that. But how much the park is featured in the movie, I’m not sure, because I haven’t seen it.”
Directed by Jeff Fowler, the movie follows Sonic the Hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz) as he tries to navigate the complexities of life on Earth with his newfound best friend, a human named Tom Wachowski (played by James Marsden). They join forces to prevent the evil Dr. Robotnik (Carrey) from capturing Sonic and using his powers for world domination.
Since its release on Feb. 14, Sonic the Hedgehog has earned $128 million at theatres worldwide, according to boxofficemojo.com.
On Thursday (Feb. 20), the Motion Picture Association of Canada (MPA) said the movie resulted in production spending of more than $37.5 million across B.C.
In addition to Surrey, filming locations included Shelter Point Distillery in Campbell River, Diplomat Motel in Nanaimo, Stawamus Chief Park in Squamish, Camp Howdy in Belcarra and a highway chase scene at the Cook Creek Interchange on Vancouver Island.
“In just 53 days of filming, the live-action adventure comedy spent more than $22 million supporting local labour and created over 1,450 jobs for local cast and crew,” the association said in a news release.
”Sonic the Hedgehog also benefited hundreds of community businesses with more than $15.5 million in spending on production-related goods and services, including more than $490K on catering, baked goods and food items, $1.6M on hotels and accommodations, $350K on hardware and lumber supplies, $300K on wardrobe purchases.”
The MPA data “demonstrates the significant impact just one feature film can have on the local economy,” said Wendy Noss, president of the association. “Sonic the Hedgehog created local jobs for almost 1,500 British Columbians whose talented work behind the scenes will be showcased on the big screen.”
The MPA news release includes quotes from a number of movie-industry partners including Lee Rosenthal, president of Physical Production, Paramount Pictures: “Filming in B.C. provided us with incredible local cast and crew, and beautiful locations for Sonic the Hedgehog. We found great partnership in the local business community, and they satisfied all of our production-related needs.”
Phil Klapwyk, business representative with IATSE Local 891, said the professional artists and technicians of the union “love a challenge, and bringing this much loved video game character to the big screen fit the bill. Sonic the Hedgehog isn’t just a creative and technical success; it provided good jobs for many B.C. crew members. We’re definitely hoping for a sequel.”