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Sometimes, movies premiere on the same day and live harmonious lives at the box office. Last summer, Barbenheimer, the coexistence of Barbie and Oppenheimer, prompted movie theater marathons, memes, and cosplay dedicated to the diametrically opposed films. But that’s not always what happens, sometimes fans pit movies against each other. Now, normally, I am not rooting for things to fail, but in the battle between the Shadow the Hedgehog-led Sonic the Hedgehog 3 movie and the Mufasa-led Lion King prequel nobody asked for, I’m hoping that hedgehog throws the lion into a stampede of wildebeests ahead of schedule.

Both Sonic 3 and Mufasa: The Lion King are set to premiere on December 20, 2024. Admittedly, I kind of forgot about the not-live-action-but-photorealistic-animated Lion King movie from 2019 because it was a creatively bankrupt endeavor (other than the excellent Beyoncé companion album). Like many others, I was reminded yesterday that Disney was trying to capitalize on nostalgia again with a prequel based on protagonist Simba’s father, Mufasa, when it released the film’s first image, showing a lion standing at the top of a cliffside.

Do we need a Lion King prequel? Do we need one that uses the remake’s photorealistic art style? But most importantly, do we really need another movie taking up theaters that could instead be hosting the debut of live-action Shadow the Hedgehog?

Sonic fans, ever the mischievous little guys, have made it clear that they will not go see what Mufasa did before he became a welcome mat for a few dozen wildebeests. They will, however, be seeing a different tragedy, probably, when child star Alyla Browne plays Maria Robotnik and probably gets murdered on-screen. Reader, they’re so real for that.

Whether Sonic the Hedgehog 3 outperforms Mufasa on opening weekend remains to be seen. Even if Paramount’s live-action Sonic universe is also capitalizing on a brand that many people feel nostalgia for, the movies have been entertaining riffs on the franchise rather than a near-line-for-line remake of something readily available on Disney+. Mufasa is new, but it’s built on the foundation of Disney’s artistic black hole of “live-action” remakes.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 director Jeff Fowler announced the movie had completed filming on March 28, though there’s still no word on who is playing Shadow. The third movie is the culmination of Sega’s recent efforts to put Shadow back in the spotlight after he became more of a background character in recent years. The upcoming Sonic X Shadow Generations remaster is adding a new storyline featuring Sonic’s rival, and they’ve started putting the broody Ultimate Life Form on brand deals like the Sonic IHOP special menu. I tried Shadow’s Chaos Chocolate Pancakes yesterday, and let me tell you, four pancakes are too goddamn many.



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