Weekend Box Office (February 12 - 15, 2016)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND With a jaw-dropping opening that shattered all industry expectations, the super hero action-comedy Deadpool conquered the global box office with a stunning $300M launch - a gross more than five times its production cost.

In North America, Deadpool crushed records with a mammoth $150M four-day holiday debut, according to estimates, and $132.8M over the Friday-to-Sunday portion. That was by far the biggest Presidents' Day weekend launch ever soaring past the $93M of last year's Fifty Shades of Grey and also the best ever for the month of February.

Based on the Marvel comic book character and released by Fox, the Ryan Reynolds smash generated the best opening day, three-day, and four-day weekends ever for any R-rated film. In a world where box office records are broken constantly, no R film has managed to break the high bar set by The Matrix Reloaded back in 2003. Until now. That heavily hyped sequel bowed to $42.5M on its opening day - a Thursday including Wednesday night pre-shows starting at 10pm. Deadpool beat that record with $47.5M including pre-shows. The Neo sequel posted a Friday-to-Sunday of $91.8M and a four-day Thursday-to-Sunday bow of $134.3M. Of course, ticket prices were lower back then but as a sci-fi sequel, anticipation was sky high at the time.

Super hero films make much of their money from younger kids so Deadpool's performance was exceptional considering the large number of people who may have wanted to go, but were not taken to see it. Instead of a brand that was universally known, this blockbuster scored the old fashioned way - they made a damn good movie. Studios have oversaturated the market with super hero films both from the recent past and the numerous ones that fans know are littered on the upcoming calendars. Deadpool offered something new, refreshing, and edgy. Critics responded with fantastic reviews. The studio embargoed those reviews until right before the Super Bowl knowing they would prompt chatter among sports fans during the Big Game which would funnel right into the film's release a few days later.

Word of mouth has been through the roof and recommendations from those who saw it first have been a major selling tool to convince others. The CinemaScore grade was a terrific A and scores across all metrics are showing that customers absolutely love this product. That gives the action-comedy a bright future as many not familiar with the character may become convinced in the days and weeks ahead to take a trip. This is in stark contrast to 2011's Green Lantern which Reynolds anchored on its way to a disappointing $116.6M domestic final. Deadpool grossed more than that in its first three days and its budget was significantly lower at just $58M which is very small by super hero movie standards. Deadpool averaged a jaw-dropping $42,159 over four days from 3,558 theaters and $37,310 over three days. Next weekend provides little competition as it charges towards the $200M mark.

Among films based on Marvel comic book characters, Deadpool ranks fifth all-time behind The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man 3, and Spider-Man 3. All were PG-13 films and three of those four were in 3D while Deadpool was 2D only. Higher ticket prices did come from IMAX and other PLF screens, though. 830 total screens delivered 25% of the gross as fans of the foul-mouthed anti-hero were happy to pay extra for a premium experience. IMAX generated records with $18.4M over four days in North America from 374 screens while 232 overseas screens brought in an additional $9M for a global $27.4M haul with much more to come.

Also impressive is the fact that Deadpool posted the third biggest opening of all-time for a non-sequel after Avengers (kind of a sequel, but not fully) and The Hunger Games. The mercenary character comes from the X-Men franchise and Deadpool actually opened better than any movie from that series. The biggest debut for that property was the $122.9M four-day Memorial Day bow for the third pic, The Last Stand, and Deadpool made more in its first three days. It also opened bigger than every Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and Superman movie. The daily breakdown for Deadpool this weekend was $47.5M for Friday (including $12.7M from Thursday pre-shows starting at 7pm), $42.6M for Saturday, $42.7M for Valentine's Day Sunday, and an estimated $17.3M for Presidents' Day Monday.

Moviegoers around the world were equally pumped for Deadpool as the overseas launch saw an estimated $150M through Monday from 12,241 screens in 61 markets. Leading the way was the U.K. with $20.1M followed by Russia with $12.4M and Australia with $10.1M. Italy, Spain, and South Korea open next weekend and Japan launches in June. Look for the worldwide tally to smash $500M sometime next week.

Following its two-week run at the top, Kung Fu Panda 3 slipped to second place but still posted very healthy numbers thanks in part to the start of many school holidays. Fox hauled in an estimated $26M over the long weekend allowing the cume to break the century mark in 18 days with a figure of $100.3M. The Friday-to-Sunday portion of $19.8M dipped a mere 7% from last weekend. It is now running 21% behind the pace of its 2011 predecessor.

North America is the world's number two market for Panda 3. China is still tops with a new cume of $124.7M through Sunday allowing it to surpass the final $124.2M total of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. DreamWorks Animation planned the film's release to be right ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday and the strategy paid off handsomely. With $262.5M worldwide already, and most major markets yet to open, the road ahead will see Po's numbers swell this spring.

Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson, who enjoyed big number one openers last year with Fifty Shades of Grey and Pitch Perfect 2 respectively, delivered a moderate opening for their new dating comedy How To Be Single which grossed an estimated $20.6M over four days. The Warner Bros. release averaged $6,162 over the long holiday weekend from 3,343 locations. Reviews were mixed for the R-rated pic.

Produced by New Line and MGM, Single played heavily to the gals. Exit polls showed that the crowd was a whopping 82% female while 61% were under 35. Word-of-mouth is lukewarm as the CinemaScore grade was a B. Valentine's Day helped as Sunday was the highest grossing day of the four-day period with plenty of girls-night-out group business.

Critics and audiences both gave a thumbs down to Ben Stiller's comedy sequel Zoolander 2 which had a disappointing opening in fourth place with an estimated $16M over four days from 3,394 locations resulting in a mild $4,714 average over the long weekend. The Friday-to-Sunday portion took in $14M for a $4,110 three-day average which fell below the opening of the first Zoolander from 2001. That well-liked pic bowed to $15.5M over a non-holiday weekend in the weak month of September soon after the 9/11 tragedy plus had much lower ticket prices and 26% fewer theaters.

Reviews were harsh for Zoolander 2 which reunited main cast members like Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Will Ferrell plus added Penelope Cruz and Kristen Wiig. The lousy C+ CinemaScore grade indicated that paying customers were not happy with what they invested their time and money on. Paramount saw an audience that was 51% female and 62% over 25. With better comedy options over the long weekend, customers went elsewhere for laughs. The PG-13 film, which Stiller also directed, cost over $50M to produce and its final domestic gross will not reach that mark. On a weekend when something fresh and new dominated, this recycled material offered the same old thing.

Having the top two films in the country was not enough for Fox which also had a third film in the top five with Oscar contender The Revenant which collected an estimated $7.8M over four days to boost its tally to $160.1M. Worldwide, the Leonardo DiCaprio hit has taken in $362.1M and even swept the BAFTAs over the weekend with five wins including Best Film, Director, and Actor.

From a franchise that used to be at Fox for decades, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was bumped from the top three for the first time. BB8 and friends saw an estimated $7.6M this weekend in its ninth round and shot its domestic cume up to $916.3M. The worldwide haul now sits at $2.03 billion with the next official sequel Episode VIII just now starting its shooting schedule for a targeted release date of December 15, 2017. Another $2 billion could be in store that winter.

Suffering the worst drop among holdovers in the top ten was the Coen Brothers comedy Hail, Caesar! which placed seventh in its sophomore frame with an estimated $7.2M. Universal has banked $22M in 11 days and looks headed for a $30-33M final. Among wide releases from the directors playing in 1,500 or more theaters, this is their worst performance. Valentine's Day helped the romance The Choice hold up well with an estimated $6M over the long weekend. Cume to date is $14M for Lionsgate going to about $22M.

Universal's sequel Ride Along 2 followed with an estimated $5M while the STX thriller The Boy scared up an estimated $3.6M. Totals are $83.6M and $31.4M, respectively.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $249.8M over four days which was up 11% from last year's Presidents' Day frame when Fifty Shades of Grey opened at number one with $93M; and up a healthy 22% from 2014's holiday when The LEGO Movie remained in the top spot with $63.5M.

Compared to projections, Deadpool more than doubled my $66M forecast. How To Be Single opened ahead of my $16M prediction while Zoolander 2 came in below my $20M projection.

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Be sure to check back on Tuesday for final figures and again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Race, Risen, and The Witch all open.


Last Updated: February 15, 2016 at 4:35PM ET

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