Ryan Reynolds‘ trash-talking vigilante “Deadpool” wreaked record-breaking havoc on the box office this weekend, cracking wise and skulls while rolling up a stunning $135 million in its first three days of release. It was the best debut ever for an R-rated movie, and the best President’s Day and February debut as well.
The numbers were stunning, the biggest opening ever for distributor Twentieth Century Fox. “Deadpool” more than doubled the studio’s pre-release projections — there are no records kept on that, but it is unprecedented — and, with Monday’s Presidents’ Day still to come, the offbeat and violent saga of the sardonic superhero could hit $150 million. It has already cruised past the $91.7 million 2003 debut of “The Matrix Reloaded” to set a new standard for an R-rated opening.
The trash-talking “Merc with a Mouth” — Reynolds plays Marvel Comics mercenary Wade Wilson, who develops super healing powers and a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder following an operation to cure his cancer — also obliterated the records for a three-day February opening ($85 million) and four-day Presidents’ Day debut ($93 million) set last year by “Fifty Shades of Grey,”
The huge “Deadpool” debut is a major financial score for Fox, given the film’s $58 million production budget, which is modest by superhero standards, and the $125 million it took in overseas this weekend as well. And it’s a triumph for Reynolds, whose last superhero movie, “Green Lantern,” fizzled. It took Reynolds 11 years to convince Fox to make his passion project, which is directed by Tim Miller and co-stars Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller and Gina Carano.
“Deadpool” averaged a staggering $37,943 at its 3,558 locations. Premium Large Format and IMAX screens gave it a huge boost. Cinemark XD led the way as 465 PLF screens delivered an estimated $17.6 million (13 percent) share of the three-day grosses, records for an R-rated film and February release. The 374 IMAX theaters brought in $16.8 million, beating all February and R-rated records as well.
Two-time defending champ “Kung Fu Panda 3” finished a very distant second with an estimated $19 million for DreamWorks Animation, but ahead of the weekend’s other two wide openers.
The R-rated “How to Be Single,” an ensemble comedy from New Line and Warner Bros. starring Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie and Leslie Mann, was just behind that with $18 million. That’s about where analysts and distributor WB figured the female-skewing romantic comedy would land. It received a so-so “B” CinemaScore, which was in line with a lukewarm 49 percent “fresh” rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
The PG-13-rated Ben Stiller fashion spoof “Zoolander 2” disappointed with a soft $13.5 million for the weekend and will wind up at around $15 million over the four days for Paramount Pictures. The studio and analysts were expecting a debut north of $20 million, but the reviews took a toll. Audiences gave it a weak “C+” CinemaScore, which was in line with the critics, who have it at just 22 percent “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. But this weekend, it was all about “Deadpool.”