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'Sonic' boom sends a loud, clear message

First, I’ll give you a piece of news. Then, you’ll ask me a question.

Here we go ...

“Sonic the Hedgehog” opened in movie theaters over the Presidents Day weekend — earning mediocre reviews from critics, and an estimated $70 million at the box office.

Now it’s your turn.

I see. You’re wondering why you have to know this.

If I told you that Sonic (who, you might have guessed, is a hedgehog) works with a local sheriff (think “Turner & Hooch,” only with a computer-generated blue erinaceinae instead of a Dogue de Bordeaux) to battle the evil genius Dr. Robotnik, would it clarify things?

Didn’t think so.

For the two or three of you who haven’t turned the page yet to see which restaurant Sarah Lemon is reviewing this week, allow me to explain.

“Sonic the Hedgehog” set the opening box office record (more than $100 million, when you include international ticket sales) for a movie based on a video game.

“Angry Birds” was a curiosity that faded. The recent “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” had a decent opening, and made more than $425 million internationally, but stands to be left in the dust once “Sonic” gets rolling.

Nowwww you’re impressed ... right?

Ooooo-kay ... gonna to have to earn my money today.

Here’s the thing: “Sonic” might someday go down as a touchstone in the evolution of moviemaking. (I’d call it “cinema,” but then Martin Scorsese would have something new to gripe about.)

If films about video games can follow in the financial footsteps of films about comic books, then we could be turning a page culturally to an era where just about anything can be thrown up against the big screen to see what sticks.

There have been five movies made about the pioneers who traversed the Oregon Trail ... but wait until a future film is made where characters die from dysentery! A live-action adaptation of “Frogger” was made back in 2012 — with a human, not a frog, trying to cross a busy freeway.

Heck, if Hollywood could get a $70 million opening for “Pong 2: Electric Boogaloo,” it would be out in time for the holidays.

An answer to why this is happening might be found in the reaction to the success of “Sonic” by box office analyst John Bock.

“ ‘Sonic’ was the right film at the right time,” Bock told The Hollywood Reporter. “Nostalgia played a bigger factor than expected, moving this from a traditional family film to the teen and hipster quadrants.”

Older audiences already feel marginalized by the pandering to the tastes of Generations X, Y and Z ... now we’re going to be put further in the corner as Hollywood chases Bitcoins from the “hipster quadrant”?

How much ironic detachment — not to mention the spiritual depth of meta plot twists — can one moviegoer be forced to take?

Last year gave us the dreadful “Serenity” — which was not about the ship from the cult classic “Firefly,” but instead saw Matthew (“I’m just a Texas guy who likes to go ice fishing”) McConaughey portraying a boat captain who turns out to be a character based on the dead father of the boy who creates him for a video game.

(Hope I didn’t spoil that for you.)

This summer brings us “Free Guy,” starring Ryan Reynolds as a bank teller who comes to realize that he’s actually just a background character in a “Fortnite”-type game called “Free City.”

I think I saw that movie when it was called “The Truman Show” — which was as much a commentary on television’s ability to enslave not just its characters, but its audience as it was about whether Truman would figure out what was happening to him.

So, if video games have supplanted comic books as source material for successful movies, what comes next ... Twitter?

Funny you should say that, for one of the surprise hits at the Sundance Film festival was “Zola” — a film about a waitress who becomes friends with a stripper and then follows her on a road trip to Florida.

“Zola” is based on a 148-tweet Twitter thread from 2015 that went viral, picked up celebrity followers along the way, then found its way into an independent film headed for release at just about the same time as “Free Guy.”

I don’t know about you, but my head hurts ... and I’m just about ready to turn the page and see what Sarah has to say about Xilakil.

But before we go, a word about a movie made from as old-school a source as possible, so old that even the hipster quadrant of Generation A would call it a hoary chestnut.

I write, of course, of “The Call of the Wild” — the latest iteration of the 1903 tale by Jack London about a dog that goes through several ownerships and an identity crisis before finding companionship with a gold prospector (think “Turner & Hooch,” only with Harrison Ford instead of Tom Hanks).

This is the sixth on-screen retelling of the story — seventh, if you count the dark and twisted “Peanuts” special “What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown!” — but it, too, is making movie history.

Han Solo is playing John Thornton, while his co-star Buck will be played by Terry Notary.

No, there isn’t a trained St. Bernard–Scotch Collie mix dog-actor named Terry Notary. Notary is a performance capture artist who has played an ape in one of the “Planet of the Apes” movies, Cull Obsidian in “Avengers: Infinity War” and various other mythical and fictional creatures.

In “The Call of the Wild,” though, he plays a dog — not just any dog, but perhaps the first legendary dog in the annals of English literature. If you go to see “The Call of the Wild,” try not to think that Indiana Jones is talking to a dog that’s actually a man wearing motion sensors.

I hope I didn’t spoil that for you.

Mail Tribune copy desk chief Robert Galvin is stuck in a computer simulation at rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com

Robert Galvin