While this is the weekend for love (it’s Valentine’s Day, folks), moviegoers were less interested in romance, than they were in a red-suited, foul-mouthed, sarcastic superhero. 20th Century Fox‘s roll of the dice on the R-rated Merc With A Mouth paid off huge, as “Deadpool” smashed expectations and records left and right to take the top spot at the box office.
Earning $135 million since Friday, and expected to clear $150 million by the end of President’s Day weekend, there’s no way to say this lightly: “Deadpool” is huge. The movie handily beat “The Matrix Reloaded” for the biggest R-rated opening of all time. It’s the third highest non-sequel opening behind “The Hunger Games” and “The Avengers.” It has already made more than “Green Lantern” did during its entire run, and it has beat the opening weekend of every “X-Men” movie to date. It’s also Fox’s biggest domestic opener of all time, beating “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith.” Again, in case it wasn’t clear, “Deadpool” is huge.
If you thought the film’s meta-humor might not carry over internationally, guess again. Though it faced scrutiny by censors in many territories and won’t be opening in China, “Deadpool” secured $125 million abroad for a total global opening of $260 million. Any way you slice it, “Deadpool” is a hit. 20th Century Fox combined a modest budget of $58 million with a clever (if relentless) marketing campaign that clearly resonated with a big way, and helped sell a character that’s clearly niche, to a big, mainstream audience.
However, one should be careful before making declarations that “serious” superhero movies are now in trouble. That argument has been trotted out almost as often as the Superhero Fatigue theory, since Christopher Nolan‘s “The Dark Knight” trilogy wrapped. The same goes for the argument that will soon be made that studios can now pump out more R-rated comic book movies. That rating worked for “Deadpool” because it fit the character and tone of the material. But studios would be well advised to be cautious about just throwing in extra flesh and violence, getting an R-rating, and hoping to magically have the same success. That being said, I would not be surprised if Marvel and Warner Bros. look at their upcoming slates to see what movies might work with a harder rating (“Suicide Squad,” for example) or what characters that might’ve seemed impossible to bring to the big screen before, they can develop movies around now. “Deadpool” will certainly get a lot of executives talking and lets put this in deeper perspective: the opening weekend gross of “Deadpool” is higher than the entire domestic run of 2013’s “The Wolverine,” supposedly the most popular X-Men character.
Meanwhile, “Zoolander 2” will get executives talking for a different reason. Met with brutal reviews and audience indifference, the sequel to “Zoolander” opened to $15.6 million, almost exactly what the original did fifteen years ago. Time has not aged Derek Zoolander well with audiences, and seems to suggest that nostalgia doesn’t guarantee success, and maybe “Zoolander,” for all the memes and one-liners it has garnered, was always going to be a cult hit, and never catch with the mainstream. Though, who knows, if the original did the same and only later became beloved, maybe the same will happen here?
Faring better, “How To Be Single” opened to a solid $18.7 million. Basically, the movie found its audience, and budgeted at $38 million, doesn’t have to go a long way to be a solid performer for Warner Bros.
In limited release, Michael Moore had some good news. His latest film, “Where To Invade Next,” had the biggest limited release opening of his career, earning over $1 million from just three hundred theaters. That’s a nice start, and certainly a good debut for new film distributors on the block, IMG Films.
1. “Deadpool” — $135 million
2. “Kung Fu Panda 3” — $19.6 million ($93.9 mil.)
3. “How To Be Single” — $18.7 million
4. “Zoolander 2” — $15.6 million
5. “The Revenant” — $6.9 million ($159.1 mil.)
6. “Hail, Caesar!” — $6.5 million ($21.3 mil.)
7. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” — $6.1 million ($914.8 mil.)
8. “The Choice” — $5.2 million ($13.2 mil.)
9. “Ride Along 2” — $4.1 million ($82.6 mil.)
10. “The Boy” — $2.9 million ($30.7 mil.)