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In a sea change for Hollywood’s go-to genre — comic book adaptations — Ryan Reynolds’ very R-rated and irreverent Deadpool grossed a record-breaking $132.7 million over the three-day Valentine’s Day/Presidents Day weekend, one of the best showings of all time for a superhero movie and shattering all expectations.
The Marvel-branded Deadpool is an enormous victory for Fox and Reynolds, who spent more than a decade convincing the studio to let him make the X-Men spinoff his way, i.e., with a hard R rating. Fox finally said yes but kept the budget at a relatively modest $58 million. Every other studio superhero movie in recent times has been rated PG-13 and cost much more; Deadpool alters the game. It also catapults Reynolds to major stardom, much as Iron Man reinvigorated Robert Downey Jr.’s career.
For the four-day holiday weekend, Deadpool earned a colossal $152.2 million, a Presidents Day best that beats the $93 million grossed a year ago by sensation Fifty Shades of Grey (official four-day estimates will be released Monday morning, so it’s possible the final number could come in higher). Among other North American records broken, Deadpool boasts the biggest R-rated opening of all time, the biggest opening for the month of February and the top opening in history for Fox. It’s also the biggest debut for a first-time feature director (Tim Miller).
“Deadpool is wildly creative and new, and that’s what audiences want,” said Fox domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson. “I think a lot of credit goes to [Fox CEO] Jim Gianopulos for having the courage to make this movie.”
The movie — replete with foul language, nudity, sex and graphic violence — succeeded in getting a heavy turnout among younger males, an elusive demo in recent years. At least 62 percent of ticket buyers were male, while a hefty 47 percent of ticket buyers were under the age of 25.
The studio made the well-reviewed Deadpool with Marvel Enterprises via its licensing deal for the X-Men universe of characters, and, along with Reynolds, spent months aggressively marketing the movie. Sometimes, the campaign was as irreverent and out there as the film itself, but the studio was also savvy in marketing the film as a broad offering in line with other superhero movies, which draw families. Deadpool is playing in 3,558 theaters, including Imax locations.
The tongue-in-cheek movie, which often pokes fun of the superhero genre, follows Wade Wilson (aka Deadpool), a witty mercenary nicknamed the Merc With the Mouth who is bestowed with special healing powers after undergoing an experimental treatment for cancer. But he vows to get revenge after he’s quickly betrayed, and horribly disfigured, separating him from his girlfriend (Morena Baccarin). The actor first appeared as the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Reynolds’ film received an A CinemaScore from all age groups. And 92 percent said they would recommend it to a friend, while 76 percent checked off the excellent box, on par with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, according to ComScore’s PostTrak exit polling service. Other characters from the X-Men comic book universe who appear in the film include Colossus (Sefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand).
The crown for biggest R-rated opening previously belonged to The Matrix Reloaded ($91.8 million), set in 2003 and one of the longest held records in box-office history.
Overseas, Deadpool is also doing huge business, opening to $132.3 million from 61 markets over the three-day weekend for a global bow of $284.5 million, including scoring the biggest opening of all time in Russia with $12.4 million, besting Star Wars: The Force Awakens. On Monday, the movie is expected to cross $150 million, putting its global tally at $300 million.
Deadpool is Fox’s biggest opening of all time in 13 markets, including Australia ($10 million) and Taiwan ($8.3 million), and the top opening for a film with the equivalent of an R rating in 11 territories, including the Philippines ($2.8 million), known to be a conservative marketplace. Overall, the U.K. led with $20.1 million.
Heading into the weekend, Deadpool was tipped to earn $65 million to $75 million North America, but it quickly turned into a sensation at the multiplex, with estimates constantly being revised upward. Deadpool‘s three-day number makes it the No. 7 comic book opening of all time behind the two The Avengers movies, Iron Man 3, the final two Dark Knight films and Spider-Man 3, not accounting for inflation.
Reynolds’ movie made the going tough for the other two holiday offerings, Zoolander 2 and How to Be Single as adults and teenagers largely focused on Deadpool. That left an opening for Fox and DreamWorks Animation’s family animated offering Kung Fu Panda 3 to come in No. 2 in its third weekend with $19.8 million for the four days and $26 million for the four, putting Panda‘s domestic total at $100.3 million through Monday.
How to Be Single, an R-rated romantic comedy starring Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie and Leslie Mann, placed No. 3 with a three-day take of $17.9 million and four-day gross of $20.6 million. That’s in line with New Line and MGM’s hopes for the $38 million movie heading into the holiday weekend. The raunchy rom-com skewed heavily female (82 percent), with 61 percent of ticket buyers under the age of 35.
Overseas, How to Be Single opened to a solid $10.5 million million from roughly 35 percent of the marketplace for a global bow of $31.1 million.
From Paramount, Zoolander 2, reuniting Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell, took in $14 million for the three-day weekend, putting its four-day gross at $16 million, a disappointing start considering the studio had hoped for a four-day gross north of $25 million based on the strength of prerelease tracking. The sequel, coming in No. 4, cost just north of $50 million to produce. (On Sunday, Paramount was bullish in estimating a four-day take of $18 million.)
Even with an aggressive marketing campaign, Zoolander 2 needed better than a C+ CinemaScore to weather withering reviews. The first Zoolander (2001), debuting to $16 million, likewise got a C+, but sported far better notices. How to Be Single earned a ho-hum B CinemaScore overall, but fared better among it core demo, the under 35 set, who gave it a B+.
Zoolander 2 also began its international rollout, opening to $9.3 million from 20 markets and coming in well ahead of the first film for a worldwide start of $25.3 million.
“Deadpool was always going to be big, but because of its hard R rating, we felt like we could be the date-night choice for Valentine’s Day and get teenagers with our PG-13 rating. Deadpool was able to everybody in a way that was difficult to anticipate,” said Paramount worldwide marketing and distribution chief Megan Colligan.
In North America, Fox and New Regency’s The Revenant rounded out the top five. Alejandro G. Inarritu’s awards frontrunner took in $6.6 million for the three days and $7.8 million for the four days. Through Monday, the movie’s domestic cume is $160.1 million.
Disney and Lucasfilms‘ Star Wars: The Force Awakens followed with $6.2 million for the three days and $7.6 million for the four, putting its domestic total at $916.3 million and worldwide cume at $2.026 billion through Monday. Elsewhere, Disney began rolling out animated tentpole Zootopia in three foreign markets where school holidays are underway ahead of its March 4 release in North America.
From Disney Animation Studios, Zootopia grossed a total of $4.5 million, including $2.8 million in Spain and $1.7 million in Belgium, where it scored the biggest opening of all time for a Disney Animation or Pixar title.
Ethan and Joel Coen’s Hail, Caesar! held relatively well in its second weekend after a subdued opening last weekend, grossing $6.4 million for the three days and $7.2 million for the four days for a domestic total of $22 million.
Feb. 15, 7:40 a.m. Updated with estimated four-day numbers.
Feb. 15, 9:45 a.m. Updated with international numbers for Deadpool.
Feb. 16, 12:45 p.m. Updated with final numbers.
Weekend Box Office 2/14/16
|2. Kung Fu Panda 3||$19.7M||$93.9M||5,112||3|
|3. How to Be Single||$18.8M||$18.8M||5,609||1|
|4. Zoolander 2||$15.7M||$15.7M||4,611||1|
|5. The Revenant||$6.9M||$159.2M||3,045||8|
|6. Hail, Caesar!||$6.6M||$21.4M||2,930||2|
|7. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens||$6.2M||$914.8M||3,422||9|
|8. The Choice||$5.2M||$13.3M||1,995||2|
|9. Ride Along 2||$4.1M||$82.7M||2,642||5|
|10. The Boy||$2.9M||$30.8M||2,009||4|
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