Deadpool - An Unlikely Hero Saves the Box Office
By John Hamann
February 14, 2016
If the character Deadpool was here right now, as it relates to the box office, I believe he would say, “What the f*&k just happened?” I know that's what I'm saying.
What happened at the box office this weekend was a Deadpool-style slaughter - an unexpected box office ambush by a fan-favorite superhero with an attitude. Everyone knew Deadpool, the "Merc with a mouth," was going to be big, but no one expected records to fall. Fox hit the big three box office checkboxes with Deadpool: it had one of the best calendar configurations ever, featured one of the better marketing campaigns of the last decade, and sported the perfect actor/character combination.
It is a very good weekend to release a film. With Valentine's Day on Sunday and President's Day on Monday, this February Frame becomes a weekend on super steroids, as Sunday is good for couples thanks to Valentine's Day and good for kids who have a day off from school on Monday. The result is like having an extra day added to the weekend. Internal weekend multipliers move from being in the high 2s and 3s to being in the high 3s and 4s. Besides Deadpool, other openers trying to take advantage are Zoolander 2 and How To Be Single. These two could have been big, but they ran into a surprisingly unstoppable force, an R-rated superhero film who delivers what may be the most surprising, out-of-nowhere box office weekend in history.
Our number one film of the weekend is Deadpool, as Ryan Reynolds tries desperately to rid himself of The Green Lantern tag but still stay in the superhero business. Mission accomplished. The Thursday preview gross alone removed all memories of the Green Failure and its massive write-down for Warner Bros. Deadpool - from out of nowhere - roused $12.2 million in Thursday business alone. That's more than Guardians of the Galaxy, a similar, non-sequel, Marvel project, accumulated from its Thursday preview ($11.2 million), and that was in August. If Guardians could get to a weekend gross of $94 million via lower previews, where was Deadpool going to reach? Pre-Thursday estimates for the masked mouthpiece were in the $50 to $60 million range, and those were now blown out of the water.
The combined Thursday/Friday amount came in at a hot $47.5 million, which beat the Fox estimate for the entire weekend, and was on the low side of the full weekend estimates for most analysts. The opening day ranks as the 24th biggest day ever, beating behemoths like Minions ($46 million), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 ($45.6 million) and Man of Steel ($44 million). Deadpool's opening day was the second biggest non-summer, non-Thanksgiving or Christmas opening day, behind only Furious 7 and The Hunger Games, which debuted to $67.3 million on its way to a $152 million opening frame. Deadpool had a huge opening day - a record for an R-rated film - and was about to be followed by a pre-Valentine's Day Saturday, Valentine's Day Sunday, and then President's Day on Monday. As long as Deadpool wasn't too front-loaded, a top 30 weekend of all-time could be in store.