[Includes some minor Deadpool Spoilers]
Deadpool's success has taken the country by storm. Mounting a record-breaking opening week of nearly $375 million, Wade Wilson's caustically funny yet heartwarming superhero saga has brought unprecedented success to its long-toiling star (Ryan Reynolds), director (Tim Miller), and writers (Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick). Not only is it February’s top-grossing film, but it's on pace to become the second highest earning X-Men movie after X-Men: Days of Future Past. And going into its second weekend, Deadpool shows no signs of slowing down.
One of the most impressive parts of the whole tale – almost as much as the film's long road to Hitsville – is the shock value of an R-rated superhero pic. It’s already been reported that the final Wolverine installment will receive an R-rating. Is it possible that Deadpool’s box office bonanza will help those in Hollywood overcome their fear of pushing envelopes? The film’s writers certainly hope that’s the case.
Reese and Wernick recently sat down with Forbes to discuss tinsel town’s shyness when it comes to stepping out on a limb. Although they championed the film, they understood the studio’s reluctance to put their money behind the Merc With a Mouth. An R-rating cuts out a sizeable portion of the youth market, especially within the superhero genre, which normally caters heavily to that market. In spite of this, the film performed extremely well, and Wernick feels that “[Deadpool] does speak to all four quadrants — I mean, granted, we can’t get the 7-to-11 year olds.”
Still, the writers were fully aware of the role risk plays in the greenlighting process, particularly since the studios are no longer privately held businesses and have to show profitability to their shareholders. Despite their need to play it safe, Wernick hopes that Deadpool’s incredible performance “will embolden this town to trust the lunatics...because it looks like this decision will really pay off for Fox.” And, if there’s anything studio heads understand, it’s how to recreate a winning formula (perhaps a little too well). Wernick elucidates:
“Hollywood is nothing if not imitative. Every film has any number of facets, and when a film succeeds all of the characteristics of that film tend to be repeated moving forward. So, the R-rating is just one of those, and the edginess, they’re just part of this movie… At least, executives will have their eyes open to the potential for a movie like this, a high-end gross potential. And that’s a good thing. I think the more diversity we have in these varied superhero movies, the better.”
The film was both a surprise to the writers and to Fox. Now halfway through its second weekend, Deadpool could potentially gross $650 million worldwide, if not more. And with its success comes the rinse and repeat formula, so to speak, as Deadpool 2 is already underway – something the writers are still surprised by. Until just before the buzz hit fever pitch, Reese and Wernick had no idea whether there would ever be a sequel, something which shows a leap of faith on their part and on Miller’s, for creating the post-credits sequence:
“The two-part coda is just an extension of the Ferris Bueller scene,” Reese explains, “but in it we talk about a sequel and the fact that it’s going to involve the character Cable. It was really a bit of wishful thinking on our part, a little bit of bravado…We didn’t know if we’d get to use Cable, we just put it in there hoping it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Fortunately for fans of the first film, the sequel will feature the returning talents of not only Reynolds and director Miller, but also the screenwriting duo. In addition, the inclusion of fan-favorite character Cable also bodes well for the continuing saga of the best-dressed merc in town.
What's more, the continuing success of films like Deadpool could open the floodgates for more ambitious and unique projects. Seeing that audiences can handle more challenging fare, studios will tackle trickier subjects like the upcoming Sandman film and the once-thought unfilmable Watchmen comic book.
Deadpool is now in theaters. X-Men: Apocalypse will hit theaters on May 27, 2016; Gambit sometime in 2017; Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017; and an unannounced X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development. We’ll let you know when Deadpool 2 gets an official release date.