‘Deadpool 2’ Shows Superhuman Strength at Box Office

R-rated X-sequel earns $125 million in its first weekend of release.

May 20, 2018 3:42 pm

Superheroes have become bullet-proof at the box office.

Deadpool 2, the further adventures of the potty-mouthed mutant hero played by Ryan Reynolds, continued the genre’s total domination at the multiplex, earning $125 million in North America in its opening weekend. What makes that total even more impressive is that the film is R-rated, meaning it’s largely adults powering those super returns.

The school of thought used to be that costumed crusaders were for kids, but 20th Century Fox has found a lucrative R-rated niche in the crowded superhero genre with last year’s Logan and the Deadpool movies.

“The R-rated mega-blockbuster is somewhat of a unicorn,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior box office analyst for ComScore told RealClearLife.  “This is more of the edgy side of Marvel heroes, so the studio is not going for the broadest possible audience. I give them a lot of credit in going the more creative, edgier, and riskier route.”

But it’s not that risky anymore to mine the bins at the comic store for movie properties, as Deadpool 2 proved again.

The Marvel character (Fox licenses the X-Men franchise) now has the bragging rights of knocking the previous box office champ, Avengers: Infinity War, out of the top spot after three straight weekends at No. 1. But don’t weep for Disney executives. Infinity War is nearing the $600 million mark domestically and has a global haul of $1.8 billion — already making it the fourth-highest grossing movie of all time globally.

“It’s a conundrum for the industry right now in a year in which you had Black Panther and then Infinity War and now Deadpool,” said Dergarabedian. “There seems to no superhero fatigue right now.”

The genre has such a stranglehold at the box office that the third-place finisher this weekend, the older women’s buddy comedy, Book Club, is considered a surprising success after earning $12.5 million in its debut — or one-tenth of what Deadpool 2 made. Critics argue that all the marketing and attention given to superhero movies are at the expense of worthy dramas and comedies.

Next week, a new movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story, will take over the top spot, but it can be argued that it’s essentially a superhero story set in space.

“There’s a larger philosophical question as to whether this is good or not for the industry,” said Dergarabedian. “If people are going for the big event movies, but staying home for everything else—that’s not a great long-term strategy.”

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