Despite all the hype surrounding the release of Deadpool, the true test of success within the paradigm of Hollywood is cold, hard cash. Fortunately for Fox, the foul mouthed antihero is looking set to bring in some serious dough.
The film is on track to make $70 million on its opening weekend, with Fox making a conservative prediction of anywhere between $60 million and $65 million. If things go to plan, it could become the second most popular President’s Weekend launch ever (behind Fifty Shades of Grey — at $93 million).
The Perfect Storm
In some ways, the movie has cooked up the perfect storm. The driving force has been Ryan Reynolds's remarkably flawless portrayal of the Merc with a Mouth. Mix in genius viral marketing and a beloved comic book antihero, and you have a recipe for profit.
As much as popularity will be a celebration for the likes of Reynolds (who petitioned for years to get the film made), it could also have a significant ripple effect through the superhero universe. R-rated superhero films are notorious for performing erratically at the box office — for example, Punisher: War Zone (2008) was a commercial flop, earning just $8 million compared to its $30 million budget.
And the story is similar across the board. Although Kick Ass (2010) was enjoyed by fans of the comic and critics, its opening weekend grossed just $19.8 million. The follow up, Kick Ass 2 (2013) performed below expectations at $13.3 million. Marvel's other movie R-rating escapade, Blade (1998), domestically grossed $70 million in total, the amount Deadpool could make in one weekend.
That isn't to say the film would be the first R-rated superhero movie to be a box office success. Zac Synder's Watchmen (2009) was a beautifully shot and graphically violent R-rated DC adaptation that grossed $55 million on its opening weekend.
Ahead Of The Comic Book Competition
However, Watchmen's gross could still be dwarfed by Deadpool if projections are accurate. Its allure lies beyond a famous face or a promise of vulgarity. It speaks of a bigger picture, a place in a universe where comic book stories really aren't for kids.
Fox is so confident that they have found the magic formula, despite opening this weekend, a sequel has already been greenlit. The film was created thanks to fans, but it could spawn a new franchise due to its universal appeal.
There are a rich collection of comic book characters who are gasping for an opportunity to have no holds barred live action counterparts. Imagine DC's Lobo, Deathstroke or, dare I say it, even Batman, in R-rating. Or how about Marvel's Moon Knight?
The realm of new ventures Deadpool could make possible is exciting. But, before we get too carried away, don't forget the film is finally released on February 12th.
If you could see one comic book character in an R-rated movie, who would it be?