Deadpool had a crazy weekend at the box office, destroying every record for February no matter which way you slice it—opening day, single day, Thursday preview, R-rated debut, the four-day President’s Day weekend frame. For the three-day weekend it’s pulled an estimated $135 million, with $150-160 million for the four-day holiday—I think the actuals will be higher, based on a strong Sunday. To put it in Deadpoolian terms, they skull-f*cked the box office for four straight days, and with a glowing A CinemaScore from audiences, they’ll probably have their way with the rest of the month, too. (You should still find time for The Witch, though.)
This success isn’t just another win in the superhero-movie column, it’s a big personal win for Ryan Reynolds. He’s a box office champ, and a viable leading man again, getting back to his pre-Green Lantern career high. Deadpool 2 has already been greenlit, so now he has his own superhero franchise, but he also proved his mettle as a producer. Deadpool could have been a nightmare, but Reynolds held it together for over a decade with duct tape and pure spite until he could make the movie with the team he wanted, the way he wanted, and it paid off. Boy, did it ever pay off.
The takeaway from Deadpool’s success is two-fold. 1) February can support monster box office, so look for more potential blockbusters to start popping up in this month going forward, and 2) superhero fatigue is still not real. People CLEARLY love superhero movies. Deadpool’s success echoes Guardians of the Galaxy’s, in that both movies were considered risky, yet both demolished the box office, and not for nothing, both are funny, self-referential superhero spoofs. Deadpool certainly takes that concept a lot farther, but audiences obviously love superhero movies that come with a wink and a nod.
Which maybe should worry Warner Brothers. We’re six weeks away from Superhero Face Punch, a movie which is the antithesis of the style and tone of Deadpool. We’ve already seen Man of Steel stumble because it was too dark and self-serious, ditto for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Fantastic Four. People love superheroes, but they seem to only love them when they’re fun and funny—aka the Marvel Formula. I absolutely believe WB/DC has to find their own rhythm, but it occurs to me that their rhythm might be “niche counter-programming”, and they’re spending way too much money to settle for a corner when they want the whole room.