'Deadpool' Success Leads to Big Paydays for Ryan Reynolds and Team

Ryan Reynolds - Getty - H 2016
Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

The actor is preparing for a big renegotiation for the planned sequel, as director Tim Miller doesn't yet have a deal to return.

A version of this story first appeared in the March 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

With Deadpool crossing $500 million at the global box office in less than two weeks, 20th Century Fox is sitting pretty considering the movie cost a mere $58 million to make. Now the game of how to divvy up the spoils begins.

According to sources, star and producer Ryan Reynolds was paid $2 million upfront and is said to be the only actor eligible for box-office bonuses and backend compensation. He’s now likely to make more than $10 million from the movie and possibly much more, especially if it reaches $800 million in global sales as projected. The big payday is impressive considering Reynolds, 39, was ice cold after Green Lantern (2011) and R.I.P.D. (2013) flopped. He’s signed for a sequel, though sources say his WME agents already are preparing for a big renegotiation that will significantly up his compensation for future installments. 

In the movie’s funny and clever opening credits, which poke fun at Hollywood by substituting real names with quips such as “Starring God’s Perfect Idiot” and “Written by the Real Heroes Here,” the director's title card reads, “Directed by an Overpaid Tool.” That’s hardly the case when it comes to Deadpool helmer Tim Miller.

Miller, 50, who made his feature debut on the project, could collect several million dollars when all is said and done. He was paid only $250,000 up front, according to sources, a semi-standard studio fee for many first-timers. A visual effects and title-sequence specialist who had been developing the movie since 2011, Miller also has an option for a future Fox movie that would up his fee to the $500,000 range. Like Reynolds, Miller stands to benefit from box-office bonuses. One benchmark for extra cash to kick in was a $150 million cume in North America — a number the movie eclipsed in its first four days. (That milestone likely resulted in $100,000 to $150,000 in bonuses.)

There’s also likely to be “goodwill” bonuses for the film’s key players, a circle that includes writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. After all, Fox is keen to keep Reynolds and the Deadpool team happy as they build out the franchise. As THR reported before the movie opened, Wernich and Reese already are working on a Deadpool sequel. But unlike Reynolds and the writers, Miller doesn’t have a deal in place to return for a sequel. That means Fox will have to pony up to keep the creative team together, which, of course, it now is motivated to do. Fox declined to comment.

Deadpool is a Marvel character who first appeared on the big screen as a villain in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Fox quickly put a spinoff in the works, though the project languished as executives grappled with whether to make an R-rated superhero film and Reynolds' star power dimmed. When a test footage reel was leaked in August 2014, ardent fan reaction caused the studio to greenlight the movie with a budget in the $55 million-$60 million range. Now it's turned into a bona fide new franchise for Fox.