‘Deadpool’ Demolishes Box Office Records with $135 Million Debut

     February 14, 2016

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Wow. Just… wow. When covering the box office you get used to a certain level of hyperbole, but I am here to tell you that the hype is all real when it comes to Deadpool. According to studio estimates, the Tim Miller-directed pic has earned an incredible $135 million for the three-day weekend and is headed above $160 million for the four-day holiday frame. That is nearly double what the industry expected from the R-rated superhero pic. And, just to be clear, had Deadpool wound up closer to its initial target of $75 million we would still have written it up as a big win for Fox. But as it stands? This is the kind of crazy-unexpected, record-breaking launch that just doesn’t come around very often.

For one thing, it’s the middle of winter, and superheroes are supposed to thrive mainly in the summer. In fact, since the dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, only one major superhero has bowed before May: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Other comic adaptations have opened in winter (The Green Hornet, Watchmen) but none has come close to the level of Deadpool. Even if we look at winter and spring debuts combined (everything between January and May) Deadpool now ranks as the third highest opening of all time, behind only The Hunger Games ($152.5) and Furious 7 ($147.2).


As we told you yesterday, Deadpool set a new record on Friday for the biggest single-day February opening – easily topping last year’s Fifty Shades of Grey. Deadpool also broke the record for the biggest single-day R-rated debut, set back in 2003 by The Matrix Reloaded.  With this morning’s estimates, we have a whole new set of records to recalibrate. Here’s a partial list of former title-holders, kindly assembled by Box Office Mojo:

  • Largest February Opening Weekend: $85.1 million; Fifty Shades of Grey
  • Largest 4-Day President’s Day Weekend: $93 million; Fifty Shades of Grey
  • Largest R-Rated Opening Weekend: $91.7 million; The Matrix Reloaded
  • Largest R-Rated Comic Adaptation Opening: $70.8 million; 300
  • Largest Winter Opening Weekend: $89.2 million; American Sniper
  • Largest Opening for 20th Century Fox: $108.4 million; Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

deadpool-poster-phallicAs you can see, Deadpool’s $135 million doesn’t just overturn these records – it obliterates them. If this morning’s estimate stands, Deadpool will rank as the tenth highest domestic debut of all time – not limited to a particular season or MPAA rating. And it’s important to note that Deadpool was not released in 3D (though it is in many premium large format venues), so the fact that its opening ranks ahead of 3D films like Guardians of the Galaxy is a significant achievement. Other notable titles that Deadpool has surpassed include Iron Man 2 ($128.1), X-Men: The Last Stand ($102.7), and all Harry Potter films with the exception of Deathly Hallows Part 2. In fact, by surpassing The Last Stand‘s $102 million, Deadpool had the highest opening weekend for any X-Men movie ever. So yeah, that’s why we started with all the ‘wows.’

All of this is great news for Fox, the studio that brought us one of the most notable superhero misfires of the last few years with their Fantastic Four reboot. It’s also welcome news for star Ryan Reynolds, best known in the comic world for leading Warner Bros.’ awful Green Lantern adaptation. Deadpool is now, by far, Reynolds’ biggest debut, easily beating the $85 million of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which introduced the Deadpool character. Unlike in that earlier appearance, audiences and critics have embraced the caustic superhero – giving Deadpool a near-perfect A CinemaScore and an 84% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.


The incredible domination of Deadpool naturally impacted the weekend’s other new releases. The Warner Bros./New Line comedy How to Be Single did manage to come close to its initial projection of $20 million for the three-day weekend with an estimated $18.75 from 3,394 locations. The R-rated ensemble comedy featuring Rebel Wilson received a B from CinemaScore audiences and should hit $23 million including Monday’s holiday.

And then there’s Zoolander 2. The sequel to 2001’s cult comedy (with a final domestic gross of $45.1 million, Zoolander was not considered a box office ‘hit’ in its day), was projected to open with at least $20 million over the three-day weekend. Instead, the Ben Stiller feature brought in an estimated $16.6 million from 3,343 locations and may fall short of that $20 million goal even after Monday’s receipts are counted. Deadpool is certainly part of the problem here, but it didn’t help that Zoolander 2 left audiences unimpressed (C+ CinemaScore) and critics cringing (23% on Rotten Tomatoes).

Here’s this weekend’s top ten, based on studio estimates:

 Title Weekend Total
1.  Deadpool $135,050,000 $135
2.  Kung Fu Panda 2 $19,650,000 $93.9
3.  How to be Single $18,750,000 $18.75
4.  Zoolander 2 $16,650,000 $16.65
5.  The Revenant $6,900,000 $159.1
6.  Hail, Caesar! $6,590,000 $21.3
7.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens $6,194,000 $914.8
8.  The Choice $5,250,000 $13.2
9.  Ride Along 2 $4,130,000 $82.6
10.  The Boy $2,913,000 $30.7
zoolander-2-owen-wilson-ben-stiller

Image via Paramount

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Image via Warner Bros.


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