Deadpool wasn’t just big this weekend, it was big in a way that could change assumptions about which movies get greenlit. But first, how big: Early estimates have Deadpool going $135 million for the three-day and $150 million for the four-day weekend (domestic gross), setting a number of records. It became the first R-rated movie ever to open bigger than $100 million, and smashed the previous biggest R-rated opening (Matrix Reloaded, in 2003) even adjusted for inflation. Not adjusted for inflation, it’s the 17th biggest opening weekend (for any rating) of all time.
All this on an insanely-low-for-a-superhero-movie budget of $58 million. Early expectations had it going $65 to $75 million, which gives you some idea of how shocking $135-150 million is.
It’s the biggest opening weekend in 20th Century Fox’s history, bigger than any of the prior X-Men films and larger than any of their six Star Wars entries. Regarding comic book movies, it’s the seventh-biggest such debut of all time, behind only two Avengers films, two Dark Knight pics, Iron Man 3 and Spider-Man 3. Concerning non-sequels, it’s right between The Hunger Games ($152m) and Man of Steel ($128m). […] Deadpool just topped the biggest R-rated comic book superhero movie (Wanted‘s $134 million domestic gross) and the biggest R-rated costumed superhero comic book movie (Watchmen‘s $107m domestic gross) in the first four days of release. [Forbes]
As to why this is important, aside from paying for a lifetime cocaine supply for Fox execs, the conventional wisdom has long been that superhero movies were at least partly for kids, and that making one R-rated would be leaving money on the table. In fact, this was thought to be more or less true for all movies, leading to bizarre decisions like making a PG-13 Expendables movie. With Deadpool opening bigger than any X-Men movie (which is nothing short of shocking, frankly), all that goes out the window (at least, it should).
This was a movie that took 11 years for Fox to greenlight, and now it has an opening that couldn’t have been bigger. With Deadpool, not only did it go huge while being rated R, it went huge largely because it was rated R. The R rating proved to fans that it was serious, and while I don’t think what comic book superfans think matters nearly as much as studios think it does, Deadpool‘s R-rating helped differentiate it at a time when just being a superhero movie is no longer that big a deal. The kinds of movies that get greenlit from here on out will depend on whether people in charge see Deadpool‘s opening as anecdotal or as an example to learn from. At the very least, it should initiate a temporary moratorium on “Is Ryan Reynolds Really A Star” thinkpieces. And thank God, I’m so sick of people always picking on that poor, ridiculously handsome hunk of Canadian beef.