Look, if you get something wrong, you get it wrong. And when that happens, what you do next is everything. As we covered earlier, Director Jeff Fowler clearly got the message after fans made it clear that they basically hated the trailer for the new Sonic the Hedgehog. The main problem was that the title character looked less like the video game they loved, and more like a guy in a fuzzy leotard.
As a result, he and Paramount have announced that they're moving the release back into 2020, instead of the original date of November 8.
The delay will give the production a little time to redesign the character to more closely resemble the version fans are used to from the classic Sega video game.
I think this is genius, and here's why:
1. It's a movie based on a video game character people grew up with.
You really can't mess with childhood memories. If you're going to make a movie based on something people grew up on, the only reason they are going to see it is that it reminds them of something they love. If it strays too far from that memory, you've lost them.
This isn't just true about video games and movies. If your brand is based on something deeply personal to people, you have very little margin to work with. You have to get it right.
2. When you can't deliver what you promised, be honest.
Sure, you should always keep your promises, but sometimes you realize that you simply can't. Delivering the movie on time would only be keeping one promise--the release date. But the bigger promise is the one that you implicitly make that this movie is going to be fun, entertaining, and satisfying.
If you can't do that, for whatever reason, then be honest about it and tell people how you plan to make it right. That's exactly what Paramount is doing right now.
3. Don't sacrifice your people for your customers.
You owe as much, if not more, to your team. Originally, after the initial backlash, Fowler promised to make changes. That prompted criticism that it would put too much pressure on the visual effects team to come up with a redesign and still get the film out the door on time. Moving back the release honors the team that is working on the film by setting them up for success, instead of sacrificing them for a deadline.
In fact, this might be the best part of this story. It's a great example of saying to your customer, "we want to do this right, but to do that, we need time. Our people are great, and they're working hard, and we want to make you something you'll love." Ultimately that's the goal, and Fowler's response shows that they care about both their people and their fans.