DEADPOOL
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Ryan Reynolds’ irreverent “Deadpool” has dominated the President’s Weekend box office with an astounding $150 million at the U.S. box office.

“Deadpool” more than doubled last week’s forecasts that ranged between $60 million and $70 million for the Friday-Monday period. It’s one of the biggest surprise blockbusters within recent memory, given Fox’s decision to go with a February launch and an R-rating on a superhero movie.

“These are summer numbers in February,” noted Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore. “It shows that the conventional wisdom is sometimes not that wise. On paper, a studio would not release this movie at this time but the R-rating worked in its favor and somehow made it more appealing.”

Marvel’s mentally unstable mercenary — an X-Men spinoff known as the “Merc with a Mouth” with the superhuman ability of accelerated healing — struck an unexpected chord with moviegoers. It has already become massively profitable for Fox, which spent a relatively modest $58 million on its production budget.

Male moviegoers represented 62% of the audience and the over-25 audience represented 53% of the total.

As of Sunday, the international total had topped $132 million. Fox estimated Monday that the international total would hit $150 million, pushing worldwide grosses to $300 million.

The U.S total for “Deadpool” easily surpasses the previous President’s Day weekend and February record holder, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which dazzled the industry a year ago with its $93 million debut. Its three-day total of $135 million also smashed the record for an R-rated opener, held for the past 13 years by “The Matrix Reloaded” at $91.8 million.

Dergarabedian said the overperformance of “Deadpool” was similar to the 2012 opening of “The Hunger Games,” which stunned the industry with a $152.5 million launch weekend in mid-March. “The movie somehow became part of the zeitgeist,” he noted.

Fox rolled the dice with a first-time feature director, placing Tim Miller at the helm.  “Deadpool” obliterated the previous record for an opening for a first-time director — set in 2007 when Chris Miller’s “Shrek the Third” opened with $121.6 million.

“Deadpool” also took in seven times the total of Warner Bros.’ “How to Be Single,” starring Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson. “Single,” launched to capitalize on Valentine’s Day, brought in a moderate $20.6 million from 3,343 locations during the four days.

Paramount’s “Zoolander 2” was less impressive with $16 million at 3,394 sites as the combo of “Deadpool” and withering reviews held back the comedy for a fourth-place finish. The Ben Stiller vehicle scored only a 22% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Last weekend’s leader “Kung Fu Panda 3” added $26 million at 3,844 locations over the four days, finishing in second place and crossing the $100 million mark for Fox.

Fox’s eighth weekend of Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Revenant” finished fifth with $7.8 million at 2,266 sites to lift the wilderness epic past $160 million.

Disney’s ninth weekend of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” showed plenty of life over the holiday in sixth with $7.7 million at 1,810 screens. After 60 days, the seventh “Star Wars” movie has hit $916.3 million at the domestic box office — $156 million above “Avatar,” the previous record holder.

Universal’s second weekend of “Hail, Caesar!” followed in seventh with $7.2 million at 2,348 locations to give the George Clooney comedy $22 million in its first 11 days.

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