Fox made the wrong decision releasing Deadpool 2 at the beginning of the summer season. Ryan Reynolds proved his dream of playing a hard R version of the Merc with a Mouth was primed for box office success in 2016. However, trying to compete with other major (Disney) tentpoles backfired and proves Deadpool 2 should've been released at a different time.
It was only after "leaked" test footage for Deadpool sparked massive interest online that Fox finally decided to give Reynolds his shot. He spearheaded development on a solo project for years with writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, wanting another shot at the character after seeing how X-Men Origins: Wolverine turned out. His instincts were proven to be right as 2016's Deadpool surprised with big box office numbers and critical praise.
Fox quickly acted to get a sequel going, one that saw David Leitch take over as the director and bring in major characters like Cable (Josh Brolin) and Domino (Zazie Beetz). With an increased budget and scope that set up X-Force, the studio positioned the sequel as a potential box office juggernaut. Deadpool 2 came out on May 18, 2018, in the early weeks of the summer season, but all evidence suggests this wasn't the smartest move.
- This Page: Why Deadpool 2 Couldn't Top Deadpool
- Page 2: What Fox Should Have Done With Deadpool 2
How Deadpool Became a Box Office Hit
Fox decided to make a dreaded R-rated comic book movie, but they did so with a few stipulations. First of all, Deadpool was going to have a significantly smaller budget than most tentpoles. Secondly, Fox kept it out of the "prime" box office months just in case it wouldn’t live up to the overwhelming hype and so a "smaller" R-rated movie had the chance to succeed. This is ultimately why they placed the first installment in the middle of February, but that wasn’t enough. They took it a step further by placing it on Valentine’s Day weekend.
This worked unexpectedly brilliantly because Deadpool hit theaters with little competition around it. The major wide release holding over in Deadpool's first weekend was Hail, Caesar!, while the big new releases were Zoolander 2 and How to Be Single. None of these films proved to be challengers to Deadpool, which had the best reviews of the bunch and a stellar marketing campaign. With a lack of any serious competition, Deadpool film had legs deep into the spring, as it remained a top five earner for its first six weekends - until Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hit theaters in late March.
The other factor that helped make Deadpool one of the most talked about films prior to its release was a genius marketing campaign. They tailored ads to anyone who could possibly come across the film. Whether it was The Bachelor or testicular cancer, Deadpool covered it all. In doing so, Deadpool pulled in a variety of moviegoers on its way to a $132.4 million opening weekend. Overall, the film grossed over $783.1M worldwide on a budget reportedly less than $60M.
That's a winning formula. However, Fox switched up many aspects for the sequel and, as we're going to see, saw a smaller return as a result.
Why Deadpool 2's Release Date Was a Bad Idea
Whenever making a tentpole sequel in the modern era, the goal from the studio is always to make more than you did on the original investment. In typical sequel fashion, Deadpool 2's budget nearly doubled, although that still puts it on the low-end just north of $100 million; making increased box office seemed within reach. However, Fox also changed when the sequel would hit theaters and the types of films it would be competing against. As a result, Deadpool 2 made $733.2M worldwide, a healthy amount but nevertheless $50M less than the first film, with the disparity coming from the domestic side.
It is easy to understand why Fox moved the highest grossing single X-Men movie's sequel into the summer, as they expected an even bigger return, but it countered everything that helped make Deadpool ride high for so long. The sequel still had a great $125M opening, but the competition continued to rise in following weeks. During this time in the movie calendar, there are always multiple high-profile releases scheduled to come out the next week... and the week after. Deadpool 2 was unable to have the long legs of the first film due to the increased competition.
The biggest opponent was Marvel Studios and Avengers: Infinity War. The mega-blockbuster hit theaters just a few weeks before Wade Wilson's sequel (more on that in a bit), eating into its opening. Then came Solo: A Star Wars Story, which was far from the competition many would expect from the latest Star Wars film, but it's release coinciding with Memorial Day weekend (a historically lower weekend at the box office) gave Deadpool 2 a steep 65 percent drop in its second weekend. Deadpool 2 performed adequately in subsequent weeks against Upgrade, Adrift, and Ocean's 8, but then Incredibles 2 came out to largely end its box office relevance. All in all, there were simply too many other movies taking attention away from Deadpool 2. And that was after Fox already made a change.
Page 2 of 2: What Fox Should Have Done With Deadpool 2
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- Gambit (2020) release date: Mar 13, 2020
- New Mutants (2019) release date: Aug 02, 2019