Estimates showed an opening day of $35 million on Friday, which includes $12.7 million from Thursday night screenings that set a record for an R-rated film.
Fox’s “Deadpool,” a comic book adaptation about a wise-cracking mercenary, toppled the consensus forecast of $70 million over the four-day weekend at 3,558 locations. Fox had been pegging a debut between $60 million and $65 million.
“Deadpool” should set the record for the biggest Presidents’ Weekend launch in history, eclipsing “Fifty Shades of Grey’s” $93 million debut a year ago, which was also timed to Valentine’s Day.
Fox produced the movie under its licensing deal with Marvel Enterprises, which allows it to use the X-Men characters. The studio has run what appears to be a masterful marketing campaign starting last summer at Comic-Con and stressing the humor delivered by the prolifically profane superhero — whose key power is the ability to recover quickly from injuries.
Ironic taglines such as “Wait Til You Get a Load of Me” proliferated. The film, directed by Tim Miller with a modest $58 million budget, also stars Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller and Gina Carano.
“Deadpool” represents a major redemption for Reynolds, who had campaigned for years to get the film made — even after his “Green Lantern” superhero movie underperformed in 2011.
Critics have shown plenty of affection for “Deadpool” with an impressive 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Deadpool” looks to be a money-maker for Fox already. It generated a solid $14 million in seven international markets in its first two days of screenings.
Two other new comedies are expected to finish the four days in the $20 million to $25 million range — Paramount’s “Zoolander 2,” which brings back Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander 15 years after the original at 3,394 locations, and New Line-MGM’s “How to Be Single,” starring Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson, across 3,343 theaters.