For the last three weeks, “Avengers: Infinity War” has reigned over the box office, sucking in cash and putting itself on course to becoming the first summer blockbuster ever to gross $2 billion worldwide. That’s thanks in part to Josh Brolin, whose performance as the genocidal Thanos left Marvel fans raving.
Now Brolin’s going to help Marvel continue its domination of the 2018 box office this weekend as he takes up the role of Cable in Fox’s “Deadpool 2,” which is expected to take the No. 1 spot on the charts from the MCU mega-crossover.
So far this year, films based on Marvel characters — “Black Panther” and “Infinity War” — have combined to account for 29 percent of the $4.3 billion in total domestic box office revenue, and that percentage is expected to build over the next few weeks. Though “Deadpool 2” is an R-Rated film and not a Marvel Studios release, moviegoers are clearly just as excited to see Ryan Reynolds’ snarky masked mercenary do battle with time-traveling hunter Cable. Independent trackers expect the film to at least match the $132 million opening weekend scored by the first “Deadpool” in 2016, which was then a record for February releases.
A start of over $130 million would be higher than the openings for two recent MCU films, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Thor: Ragnarok.” If “Deadpool 2” can push its launch above $146.5 million, it would outperform the opening weekend of “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2” last year. Fox plans to release the film on over 4,300 screens, the widest release for any Fox release or any R-Rated film.
“You’ve got to give credit to Ryan Reynolds and Fox for keeping Deadpool relevant over the past couple years,” said comScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “While we’re completely consumed by ‘Avengers,’ I think what they have done making ‘Deadpool 2’ a must-see movie with their great promotion and making the film the next step for moviegoers looking for that next big summer blockbuster experience.”
“Deadpool 2” sees the titular antihero start a new mutant team called X-Force to protect a young, surly mutant named Firefist (Julian Dennison) from falling into the clutches of Cable. In addition to starring as Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds shares writing credit with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, with David Leitch directing. Morena Baccarin, Zazie Beetz, Brianna Hildebrand, and Jack Kesy also star. After early reviews, the film has an 84 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, nearly identical to the score earned by its predecessor.
But while superhero movies continue to roll in the dough, other films that might serve as counter-programming are looking at a much slower start. Take Paramount’s “Book Club,” which stars Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen as a group of lifelong friends who decide to jumpstart their sluggish love lives after reading “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Tracking has the film only making $10-12 million from 2,800 locations, with Paramount projecting a $9 million start.
While analysts tell TheWrap a slightly higher opening in the mid-teens is possible, it’s still lower than might be expected for a comedy featuring these four seasoned actresses. Daniel Loria, managing editor for Boxoffice Pro, says that the low numbers are in part because the pre-release word of mouth has been relatively sparse, and that the film’s success or failure will be determined on how much positive feedback the film builds in its first few days of release.
“Tracking tends to be lower on these sorts of films because they cater to older audiences, so there’s less of a social media footprint,” said Loria. “I think we’ll have to wait until Memorial Day weekend to really determine how this film is going to do, especially considering that it’s going to have to work to hold a lot of screens with all these blockbusters in the marketplace.”
Paramount, which paid $10 million for the North America, U.K. and France distribution rights to this June Pictures production, will pin its hopes on solid returns in later weeks, as the older demographics that are this film’s target audience tend to see movies later in their theatrical run. Paramount bought the rights at the American Film Market in November, while the film was in post-production.
“Book Club” is directed by Bill Holderman in his directorial debut from a script he co-wrote with Erin Simms. Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson, and Richard Dreyfuss also star. The film does not yet have a score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Finally, there’s Global Road’s “Show Dogs,” a kids’ action-comedy developed by Open Road Films prior to its acquisition by Tang Media Group. The film is expected to open to $7 million from 3,145 locations. The film stars Will Arnett as a human detective who must go undercover at a dog show with his canine partner (voiced by Ludacris). Raja Gosnell directed the film from a script by Max Botkin and Marc Hyman.