Sonic: Wonders of the World (partially lost story treatment of cancelled film adaptation of video game series; 1995)
The film's logo as seen in the treatment.
Status: Partially Lost (Film Treatment)
Sonic the Hedgehog: Wonders of the World was a cancelled film adaptation of the Sonic the Hedgehog character from the SEGA video game series. It was the first of its kind, preceding the live-action/CGI film distributed by Paramount Pictures that was released on February 14th, 2020. It was planned to be released as a tie-in with the cancelled 1996 Sega Saturn game Sonic X-Treme.
Plot[edit | edit source]
12-year-old Josh Pinski reads out his school paper on Sonic; a test pilot killed in an explosion when he attempted to break the speed barriers. Josh, however, hasn't finished his paper and is mainly speaking from memory. He is threatened by his teacher to have his parents called in if he doesn't finish the paper by tomorrow morning. He is then picked up from school by his father, Hal, a computer genius that cannot find work.
After they eat dinner (the treatment for the film states that Josh's family is divorced), Hal leaves to find a rare computer part. He tells Josh to not touch his greatest invention, the XRI, an artificial intelligence computer that uses a system of holographic memory. Josh touches it anyway and asks it to write his paper on Sonic, the test pilot. However, XRI doesn't recognize the name, so Josh instead plugs in a Sega Saturn and a copy of Sonic X-Treme. When Josh uses the controller, however, Sonic (the hedgehog) stops moving and gets a mind of his own. Suddenly, Sonic jumps right out of the screen and into the real world. He immediately goes haywire, and the apartment Josh lives in starts to fall apart. In the midst of the chaos, Eggman (otherwise known as Dr. Robotnik) jumps out of the TV screen and laughs evilly.
Sonic tries to find Eggman but becomes confused and dazed by the real world and what happens to him in it. When he jumps onto some rooftops, their chimneys collapse. When he runs through traffic, he wrecks all the cars, and when he tries to impress a little girl, he just ends up scaring her. He also discovers he gets weaker the longer he spends in the real world.
When Hal comes home, he is shocked to find the apartment wrecked and the XRI broken. When he asks Josh about what happened, he lies and says it was burglars. Lisa, Josh's mother, comes over and ends up getting in an argument with Hal over the computer, and Josh is blamed for it. She takes him back to her house, where Josh goes to sleep. However, he is woken up by Sonic, who is exhausted and weak due to the real world, and must get his energy back from the Chaos Emeralds. They team up and discover that Chaos Emeralds exist in the real world, but are hidden in rocks.
Meanwhile, Eggman has set up a lair in an old abandoned amusement park, Botnikland, and plans to use the Chaos Emeralds to take over the real world. He comes across some bullies and uses old parts to turn them into "Bullibots." Then, they start digging underground to crush every rock and find the Chaos Emeralds. Sonic and Josh find the Bullibots and use them to track down Eggman. Meanwhile, Hal has gotten a job at Shady Corporation, the people who own Botnikland. Sonic and Josh discover that Hal has been hired so Eggman can use XRI to digitize the wonders of the world (hence the name of the film), like Mt. Everest and the Amazon Rainforest. He is also using XRI to make a virtual reality ride. The park is a smash success with the kids due to the fact that everything is free, but Josh and Sonic discover that the kids who enter the virtual reality ride are turned into robotic slaves. Sonic is captured while Josh tries to inform an ignorant Hal of Eggman's true motives.
The "Kinder-Bot Kids" return to their houses and do everything their parents say, such as eating their veggies and doing their homework. Josh is horrified by this and creates a plan to get Eggman back into Sonic X-Treme, using Sonic as bait. They succeed in luring Eggman back into the game, but Josh gets sucked in too. The final showdown occurs, with Sonic and Josh battling against Eggman. The two heroes win, and Josh goes through the vortex back into the real world, but Sonic says he has to stay behind in the video game world to continue to fight Eggman.
Hal states that the XRI is too dangerous and unsafe to ever use again, and tells Josh to put it away. He obliges but notices Sonic winking at him before returning to his business in Sonic X-Treme.
Production and Cancellation[edit | edit source]
Sonic was at the height of his popularity around the early 1990s, so Sega signed a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Trilogy Entertainment to create a film based on the blue hedgehog. Michealene Risley tasked Richard Jeffries with writing a treatment for the film.
The executives liked the treatment, but everyone was unsure about who the villain should be. Jeffries was asked by Shinobu Toyoda to change the villain, as the executives thought that the story being about Sonic fighting Robotnik would be "not new" to Sonic fans. Michealene Risley didn't agree with this, saying, "Robotnik was a great villain in the animated series and the games." Jeffries agreed with Risley, saying, "They were probably trying to develop a new bad guy for the game[s]."
However, before Richard could be given the go-ahead and start writing a script with a new villain, MGM quit the deal with Sega. Jeffries said:
"I don’t know when exactly it happened, but I got a call from my agent to say that MGM and Sega couldn’t come to an agreement on a corporate level that would work for them. It wasn’t going to work out, and they were going to pay me off, and I thought ‘gee that’s too bad’ because it’s a really good idea."
Jeffries was given permission to shop around the script, and he contacted DreamWorks about animating the film. However, they were not interested in animating the film, due to the fact that Sega wanted a large sum of money for the rights to the character, and DreamWorks wanted to use a low-priced character that they could "breathe new life into." 
Jeffries realized that the film would never be made after the DreamWorks deal failed. Sonic X-Treme was also cancelled in 1997. only worsening the film's chances of production. The script for Wonders of the World has never surfaced, and due to the evolution of Sonic over the years and the aforementioned cancellation of Sonic X-Treme, the film will probably never be made.
Treatment Discovery and Script Confirmed Non-Existent[edit | edit source]
On March 8th, 2022, during research for his book "The Complete History of Sonic SatAM," Jacob Berkley was sent a partially incomplete copy of Richard Jeffries' story treatment for the film by Michelene Risley and was given permission to share it online. Pages 6 and 7 are missing, but are currently still being looked for.
Additionally, Michelene got in contact with Pen Densham, co-founder of Trilogy Entertainment, to get more information on the cancelled flick, who confirmed no script was created. He responded with "We never went to script. We may have worked out a presentation - but it is not in my Trilogy files if we did. I pulled us out of the project when I realized that Sega wanted to hold onto the original developer's origin story which I could not see working in a film structure. And they did not want to insult the game developer by letting us work out a more feature-friendly approach. So we refunded our development fees."
References[edit | edit source]
- Kotaku article on the story of the cancelled film. Retrieved 21 Apr '19
- An article on the making of Sonic X-Treme. Retrieved 21 Apr '19