Ryan Reynolds’ “Deadpool 2” has opened with a superheroic $18.6 million on Thursday night at 3,785 North American locations.
“Deadpool 2” smashed the record for top preview gross for an R-rated film, topping the previous mark of $13.5 million, set by “It” in September.
“Book Club,” meanwhile, took in $625,000 at 2,781 locations during Thursday previews.
20th Century Fox’s superhero sequel will end “Avengers: Infinity War’s” three-week rule, with forecasts in the $130 million to $150 million range on 4,349 screens for its opening weekend — the widest launch ever for a Fox title.
The original “Deadpool” stunned the industry two years ago with a $132.4 million debut weekend, which remains the record for an R-rated title. It went on to earn $363 million in North America and $783 worldwide, making it the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time.
Reynolds returns as the wisecracking mercenary in the 11th title in the X-Men franchise. David Leitch replaced Tim Miller as director, helming from a script by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Reynolds. The story sees Deadpool forming the X-Force — comprised of Zazie Beetz’s Domino, T.J. Miller’s Weasel, Terry Crews’ Bedlam, Bill Skarsgard’s Zeitgeist, and Rob Delaney’s Peter — to protect a young mutant from Josh Brolin’s Cable.
Disney-Marvel’s fourth weekend of “Infinity War” should take in around $30 million in its fourth frame. The blockbuster topped “Jurassic World” earlier this week to become the fourth-highest grossing film at the worldwide box office with $1.686 billion. Domestic earnings reached $562.9 million after 20 days of release, while the international tally totaled $1.123 billion in three weeks.
“Deadpool 2” is also premiering against a pair of comedies — Paramount’s “Book Club” and Global Road’s “Show Dogs.” “Book Club,” starring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen as four friends who read “Fifty Shades of Grey,” is forecast to launch modestly with $7 million to $10 million at 2,781 sites. “Club” will probably battle the sophomore frame of Melissa McCarthy’s “Life of the Party” for third place.
The preview number for “Book Club” is similar to another senior-centered comedy, “Going in Style,” which scored $600,000 in previews last year on its way to an $11.9 million opening weekend.
“Show Dogs” is pegged for a launch between $4 million to $9 million in 3,145 locations. Directed by Raja Gosnell, and written by Max Botkin and Marc Hyman, the film follows a Rottweiler police dog and his owner, who go undercover at a prestigious dog show to stop a crime. Will Arnett stars alongside the voice cast of Ludacris, Jordin Sparks, Gabriel Iglesias, Shaquille O’Neal, Stanley Tucci, and Alan Cumming.
“Infinity War” and “Black Panther” have been the key titles in lifting the overall domestic box office to $4.35 billion this year as of May 16, up 3.8% over 2017, according to comScore. Moviegoing should be robust over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend with the opening of Disney’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
POPULAR ON VARIETY: