Ryan Reynolds‘ ultra-violent “Deadpool” blew away expectations, rivals and records with a $47.5 million first day Friday, making a bloodbath of the Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day weekend box office race.
The R-rated saga of the sardonic and foul-mouthed Marvel Comics superhero — a mercenary who develops super healing powers, a scarred mug and a very cynical attitude after a failed operation to cure his cancer — was on pace for an eye-popping $130 million over the four-day holiday for Twentieth Century Fox.
That would obliterate the records for a three-day February opening ($85 million) and Presidents Day weekend ($93 million) set last year by “Fifty Shades of Gray,” and it would be a staggering $60 million more than analysts had projected. The Friday figure for “Deadpool” includes $12.4 million from Thursday night preview showings, the best ever for an R-rated film.
“Deadpool” averaged an impressive $13,350 at its 3,558 locations. Premium Large Format and IMAX screens were giving “Deadpool” a big boost, with each delivering a 14 percent share of the Friday gross, with roughly $6.4 million.
“Deadpool” — in which the wise-cracking antihero frequently interrupts the mayhem to deliver asides to the audience — received an “A” CinemaScore from first-night audiences, in line with the 84 percent “fresh” rating that it has on Rotten Tomatoes.
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. This is the second-best first day ever for a Fox release, behind only the $50 million of “Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” in 2005.
And it’s 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.
The weekend’s other two wide openers were part of the “Deadpool” carnage, and two-time defending champ “Kung Fu Panda 3” will likely finish second with around $24 million over the long weekend for DreamWorks Animation.
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, is looking at around $21 million for the four days after finishing second on Friday with a strong $5.2 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” started slowly on Friday with $4.2 million and is headed for a weak $15 million for Paramount Pictures; analysts were expecting a debut north of $20 million. The reviews may have taken 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.
Things didn’t get much better for two films that underwhelmed in their openings last weekend. Universal’s “Hail Caesar!,” the George Clooney comedy from Joel and Ethan Coen, was battling “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” for fifth place and is looking at roughly $7 million over the holiday. Sony’s “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” fell out of the top 10 on Friday and is on course for $2.5 million over the long holiday.