Weekend Box Office: ‘Deadpool’s Shocking $135m Opening Is The Biggest Ever For An R-Rated Film

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.

With Deadpool coming in so huge, someone had to be the loser, and that was the also R-rated Zoolander 2. The not-that-bad-not-that-great sequel cost almost as much as Deadpool to make ($50 million), and was expected to earn $25 million or more for the four-day. Instead it did just $16-18 million. That put it behind even the weekend’s other new comedy, How To Be Single, which took $18.8 for the three-day and $21 for the four-day, according to estimates. Zoolander 2 earned a dismal C+ Cinemascore from fans and a 23 percent recommended rating from critics (this reviewer had it in the positive column, just barely). Though it should be noted, the first Zoolander also had a C+ Cinemascore and Zoolander is a modern classic. How to Be Single received a B, and a 47 percent recommended rating, incidentally.

Next week brings us Race (the Jesse Owens biopic), Risen (the Jesus Christ biopic), and The Witch (a horror movie for history majors).

Film Weekend Per Screen
1 Deadpool $135,050,000 $37,957 $135,050,000
2 Kung Fu Panda 3 $19,650,000 (-7.5) $5,112 $93,912,387
3 How to Be Single $18,750,000 $5,609 $18,750,162
4 Zoolander 2 $15,650,000 $4,611 $15,650,000
5 The Revenant $6,900,000 (-0.6)
$3,045 $159,164,599
6 Hail, Caesar! $6,590,000 (-42.0) $2,931 $21,354,970
7 Star Wars: The Force Awakens $6,195,000 (-11.2) $3,422 $914,838,964
8 The Choice $5,250,000 (-13.2) $1,995 $13,259,551
9 Ride Along 2 $4,130,000 (-9.4) $2,641 $82,661,235
10 The Boy $2,913,000 (-28.7) $2,009 $30,778,587


[chart via ScreenCrush]

Vince Mancini is a writer, comedian, and podcaster. A graduate of Columbia’s non-fiction MFA program, his work has appeared on FilmDrunk, the UPROXX network, the Portland Mercury, the East Bay Express, and all over his mom’s refrigerator. Fan FilmDrunk on Facebook, find the latest movie reviews here.

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