20th Century Fox’s extremely R-rated “Deadpool,” starring Ryan Reynolds in a career-defining role (at last), broke box office records over the weekend, taking in about $135 million at North American theaters.
Going into the Valentine’s Day weekend, Hollywood expected ticket sales of roughly $70 million. But multiplex audiences, apparently hungering for the originality promised by Fox’s unusual advertising campaign, powered “Deadpool” to the biggest domestic opening on record for an R-rated movie. The previous record-holder was “The Matrix Reloaded,” which took in $118.3 million in May 2003, after adjusting for inflation.
“This tells me without any question that new and creative is what audiences want,” said Chris Aronson, Fox’s president of domestic distribution. Mr. Aronson said
“Deadpool” could take in another $20 million on Monday, when many Americans are off work for Presidents’ Day. “My wrists are getting a little tired, but I will tape them up,” he added, joking that he had spent the weekend doing cartwheels.
Comedic, violent and sexually charged, “Deadpool” stars Mr. Reynolds as the title character, a Marvel Comics antihero with freakish self-healing powers. Directed by Tim Miller, a first-time feature filmmaker, the movie openly mocks Marvel films and finds Mr. Reynolds doing unconventional things for this genre, like talking directly into the camera.