Paramount just released the new trailer for the Sonic The Hedgehog movie, and if fan reaction is any measure, the new version of the iconic video game character is far better than the last. You might remember the previous trailer was panned due mostly to the fact that the lead character looked decidedly unlike the video game version. And that was a huge problem for the film's intended audience.
In fact, it was so bad that director Jeff Fowler announced on Twitter they were going to actually delay the film and go back to the drawing board, so to speak. At the time, I wrote how I thought that was the perfect response. When you're creating a film based on a character that familiar, you have to get it right, or else you end up with an epic failure.
In some ways, that's exactly what the original version of Sonic was--a failure. Mostly it was a failure to understand that when you mess with a fixture of people's childhood, you've lost your audience. The reason people would pay money to see a movie about a video game is because of the positive memories they associate with that character. Mess with that and you've failed.
The new version is gaining plenty of props from fans online. People seem to be giving Fowler and the studio credit for taking the time necessary to actually get it right instead of simply trying to crank something out on an arbitrary deadline.
Side by side comparison of the old and new design for #Sonic. Amazing congrats to the VFX team for working so hard to pull this off for #SonicMovie-- Joshua Ovenshire (@TheJovenshire) November 12, 2019
How often do you see a studio owning up to a mistake and reworking a whole movie? Props are deserved here. I'll support that. pic.twitter.com/ZrOBTUbemP
That's actually a really valuable lesson, especially considering the disastrous response another well-known brand is facing for releasing a subpar product. That fail belongs to the new iPad version of Photoshop, which has been criticized for lacking common features.
There's a little irony about a film where the main character's slogan is "Gotta go fast!" having to slow down to get it right. But that irony is nothing compared to the consequences of moving forward fast in the wrong direction.
It's hard, especially when you've invested time and effort and resources into something, to step back, admit you're wrong, and do what's needed to get it right. As an entrepreneur, you face dozens, if not hundreds of decisions every day, each of which is an opportunity to either get it right or completely mess up your brand.
It's also inevitable that sometimes you'll mess up. When you do, resist the temptation to ignore your critics. Sometimes those critics are screaming loudly because they are just as passionate about what you're doing as you are. Sometimes they care about it because it's something they've grown up with, and they're trusting you to get it right.
Thank you for the support. And the criticism. The message is loud and clear... you aren't happy with the design & you want changes. It's going to happen. Everyone at Paramount & Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be... #sonicmovie #gottafixfast-- Jeff Fowler (@fowltown) May 2, 2019
When that's the case, do what Fowler and Paramount did and slow down. Fowler's response is a great lesson in how to handle not living up to the expectations of your most loyal fans. Figure out where you went wrong, and then do what you have to do to get it right, even if that means redrawing your lead character.
While the original film had a budget of $90 million, CNBC estimated that it was likely "very costly" to redesign Sonic. But those extra costs can pale when compared to what you lose if you betray your most loyal fans.