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It’s summertime in February at the North American box office.
Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool earned a record $47.5 million on Friday, putting in course for an estimated three-day gross of $117 million and a stunning four-day haul of $130 million over the long Valentine’s Day/Presidents Day weekend — among the top 10 comic book openings of all time and the biggest ever for an R-rated title. (Only 10 superhero movies have crossed $100 million in any given three-day weekend.)
Deadpool is a sizeable victory for Reynolds and Fox, who spent 11 years debating whether to make the irreverent movie, since it’s one of the rare Marvel comic book movies to be rated R. Heading into the holiday weekend, tracking had suggested it would open to $65 million or $70 million over the long holiday weekend. But estimates kept being revised upwards on Friday as grosses poured.
Fox made Deadpool with Marvel Enterprises via its licensing deals 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). The net budget is $58 million, a modest number for a major studio superhero title. Deadpool is playing in 3,558 theaters, including Imax locations.
Deadpool will easily claim the top Presidents Day opening of all time, blowing away the $94 million earned last year by Fifty Shades of Grey over the four-day weekend, as well as the top February launch in history. Friday’s tally — the biggest ever for February — included $12.7 million in Thursday night previews, a record for an R-rated film, as well as for the month.
A passion project for Reynolds, the irreverent, tongue-in-cheek movie follows Wade Wilson (aka Deadpool), a foul-mouthed, witty mercenary who was bestowed with special powers after undergoing an experimental treatment for cancer. The actor first appeared as the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. In Deadpool — which is outpacing the openings of all previous X-Men films — the superhero seeks revenge against those who subjected him to the treatment.
In terms of comic book openings, Deadpool looks to share rarefied air and place No. 8 behind the two The Avengers movies, Iron Man 3, the last two Dark Knight films, Spider-Man 3 and Iron Man 2. Those it stands to beat include Man of Steel, Spider-Man, X-Men: The Last Stand, Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
All of those were rated PG-13. Deadpool‘s rating is considered a “hard” R, and theaters across the country will likely be monitoring ticket buyers to make sure those under 17 years of age unaccompanied by a parent or adult guardian don’t gain entry to the film, since teenagers are in the habit of seeing Marvel superhero movies on their own.
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, according to comScore’s PostTrak exit polling service.
Deadpool is also off to an impressive start overseas, where it could earn north of $80 million for the weekend. Directed by Tim Miller, the movie also stars Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller and Gina Carano.
At these numbers, Deadpool is no doubt making life tough for the other two holiday offerings, Zoolander 2 and How to Be Single.
How to Be Single, an R-rated romantic comedy, stars Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie and Leslie Mann. The New Line and MGM film is pacing to open to $18 million – $19 million from 3,343 theaters for the three days and $21 million for the weekend. That’s in line with Warners‘ hopes for the movie heading into the holiday weekend, although earlier on Friday, the female-skewing film was pacing to open closer to $25 million.
Zoolander 2 needed better than a C+ CinemaScore to weather withering reviews. The first Zoolander (2001) likewise got a C+, but sported far better notices. How to Be Single earned a ho-hum B CinemaScore.
Now in its third weekend, Kung Fu Panda 3 looks to beat How to Be Single and come in No. 2 with $25 million for the four days, pushing its domestic to roughly $100 million through Monday.
From Paramount, Zoolander 2, reuniting Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell, is expected to open in the $16 million to $18 million range from 3,394 theaters for the four days, a disappointing start. The sequel, costing a little more than $50 million to make, is rated PG-13. Paramount had hoped for a four-day gross north of $25 million.
At this rate, Zoolander 2 will come in No. 4, while Star Wars: The Force Awakens will round out the top five.
Feb. 12, 10:30 a.m. Updated to clarify that Blade and Punisher were the first R-rated Marvel branded films.
Feb. 12, 7:30 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
Feb. 13, 7:45 a.m. Updated with Friday numbers.
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