Cash & Creativity1 of 11Hollywood may be completely recalibrating itself in the wake of 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool essentially doubling even the most generous opening weekend box office projections. The film is on its way to becoming one of the most modern successful movie launches ever, much less for the comic book/superhero genre specifically.
The film industry at large, Fox and Marvel Studios (as well as Sony and Warner Bros.), and maybe even Marvel Comics are probably all going to have to sit down and make some adjustments starting Tuesday morning, in this now post-Deadpool-is-a-massive-hit world.
Here’s a look at several of the way Deadpool has changed the game.
A 12-Month Calendar2 of 11A couple of years ago it was the strong launch of Captain America: The Winter Soldier in April that got Hollywood to start re-considering expanding the traditional release calendar of May-July (summer) and November-December (holiday), somewhat leading to Warner Bros. to schedule Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for a late March debut to avoid a showdown with Captain America: Civil War in early May… not even mentioning Stat Wars: The Force Awakens full away all records and expectations for a film released in the smaller holiday window.
Now when kids are off from school is always going to have an advantage for the release of film’s marketed to family audiences, but the trade-off is a clearer field.
So with Deadpool banking $135m in three days in February, you have to think studios are going to even further consider expanding the release calendar to what was once considered off months and when potential breakout films have some room to breath.
In other words – if you release it, they will come.
Rated R for Revenue3 of 11Similarly, studios are also going to need to start considering that the box office limitations it has placed on rated R films, particularly in the comic book/superhero realm, has been nothing but a self-limitation. Deadpool has busted out of the gate and could be on its way to be the highest-grossing rated R film ever – a record currently held by Passion of the Christ with $611m worldwide.
Now there are probably stories to be written how many kids under 17 actually went to see Deadpool this past weekend, and how front-loaded it will be considering R limits the audience is a question still to be answered, but the PG-13 rule now has to be in question.
PG-13 clearly provides the safer window to higher returns -- simple math is on that argument’s side, but the response to Deadpool must have something to do with signaling it wasn’t your typical, safe, superhero film.
That philosophy will be tested, however, as Fox now also has to consider…
Putting Deadpool in Everything4 of 11When you consider how Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has been counted on as the marketing rock of Fox’s X-Men universe, comparing ’s opening to the opening of Jackman’s two Wolverine openings is eye-opening – those had opening weekends of $85m and $53m.
Assuming Ryan Reynolds had to sign somewhat a favorable studio deal for sequels and appearances to get Deadpool made, you have to think Fox might be thinking they have their new post-Jackman anchor -– their Iron Man – or at least positioning an X-Force-centric series as a new flagship taking over for the aging X-Men franchise.
But what balance does Fox strike? Would they risk alienating fans of the R-version of Deadpool to make a sequel PG-13 now that it’s broken out? Do they risk the possible complicated narrative of having the character jump to and from R to PG-13 films?
Fox has something of a problem on their hands, but a ‘problem’ they’re probably glad to have.
Action-Comedy Healing Powers5 of 11Looing at en even bigger picture, you have to think Hollywood may start thinking about looking through their old piles of scripts for action-comedies that have been mostly collecting dust in the 2000s
Action comedies used to be a multiplex staple, particularly buddy-cop comedies, but the genre has somewhat fallen out of favor since the 90s. Movie-going tastes are cyclical. And James Gunn is right, Deadpool succeeds because is its own thing; but he also astutely criticizes Hollywood of sometimes misreading why something worked. You have to wonder how studios looking for the next Deadpool are going to over-respond to its success and try to get the next ‘hard R’-action romp in production just as fast as they can.
It's Not the Size of the Budget, but...6 of 11And speaking of Hollywood overreaction, you really have to wonder if Deadpool’s estimated $58m budget is going to give studio executives real pangs of envy this week.
Deadpool (like the first Iron Man) succeeded without a bankable star. Unlike Iron Man, however, it didn’t even go for any recognizable stars in supporting roles. Their respective location and special effects budgets were likely considerably different. But as we noted in our review, those things worked forDeadpool, not despite them. Director Tim Miller got points for keeping things more intimate. The film felt grounded, which worked in satisfying the expectations game.
If and how the producers of superhero films – mostly Fox, Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. – react, if at all, in the next couple of years will be a story to follow.
Will $100m budgets be the new $200m budgets? Time will tell.
Putting the Comic Back in Comic Book Movie7 of 11Of course, again, dovetailing off of Gunn’s comments, nobody should rush out to try to recreate what uniquely worked for Deadpool, but it’s a fair question to ask if the comedy is behind the reaction. This weekend’s success, along with Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy (and to a lesser degree Ant-Man) serves as evidence that moviegoers react positively to a good dose of humor in their superhero fare.
Marvel Studios’ formula has always included a fair amount comedic banter, while Warner Bros. most recent films are somewhat known for taking themselves a little more seriously (though Suicide Squad looks to be breaking that mold). But you do have to wonder if an immediate overreaction to Deadpool is to up the comedy quotient in scripts that do exist.
Which leads us to a more specific question…
How Does Marvel Handle the Spider-Man Reboot?8 of 11Two facts here – One, Amazing Spider-Man 2 went the more angsty/tragic route for Marvel’s Wall-Crawler, and it didn’t work. Hence the second reboot and Marvel Studios involvement.
Two, comic book Spider-Man has always juxtaposed hard-luck tragedy with the more “Friendly Neighborhood” wisecracking comedy, the latter being why Spider-Man has always succeeded in animation and why he appeals to younger fans.
We’ve previously argued why Marvel should (and think they will) reflect their animated take on Spider-Man as he moves to the Marvel Cinematic Universe – meaning an awestruck, fun-loving teen making his way in the world of grown-up superheroes. Deadpool might just further cement that take.
Leave the perpetual loser Peter Parker behind and play up the Spider-Man who has a real good time being Spider-Man.
Interestingly Marvel Comics just launched a Spider-Man/Deadpool series specifically because of the comedic match between the characters.
And on that note…
Does Marvel Comics Have Their Next Star?9 of 11Marvel has already exploited the hell outta Deadpool over the last several years, and it seems highly unlikely that’ll come to an end anytime soon.
Again, it’s interesting that Wolverine has been in mothballs for a year or so now (not counting off-shoots like X-23 as All-New Wolverine and Old Man Logan). Are we seeing a changing of the guard on-screen and in the comic book pages, with a new centerpiece character of the mutant universe coming into the spotlight?
And either way, will Marvel stay the course of their current direction in trying to mainstream Wade Wilson somewhat (he’s now serving under Steve Rogers in Uncanny Avengers) or will they react by emphasizing a more hardcore, mature version of the character more reflective of the film?
Superhero Fatigue ... What Superhero Fatigue?10 of 11Probably mostly based on fact Avengers: Age of Ultron didn’t break out on the same level of the original, the lack of success of Amazing Spider-Man 2, and the unmitigated bomb that was Fantastic Four, a narrative about so-called “superhero fatigue “was starting to gain a foothold in the press and online, despite the fact Captain America: Winter Solider, Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man all outperformed expectations during that same period.
Deadpool strongly suggests the genre will likely live and die based on the quality and originality of individual films, a least for the foreseeable future … and that there is still originality to be found despite some critics believing superhero films are all the same.
Steven Spielberg may be right – like the western and the buddy comedy, comic book films may fall out of favor generally someday, but today doesn’t seem to be that date.
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