If you know anything about Hollywood, you know that success breeds imitations. No one is willing to take a shot on an original or untried concept, but when someone does and its a hit, everyone rushes to duplicate it.
So it will be with the surprise success at the box office this past weekend for the R-rated superhero comedy Deadpool. With the film earning almost three times its modest $55 million budget at the box office in just four days, studios are at this moment combing through the list of properties that they own, looking for a similar project that they can fast track to capitalize on what they feel is a demonstrable market for an R-rated superhero film.
And Guardians Of The Galaxy director James Gunn thinks that this is the exactly wrong lesson to take away from the weekend. Taking a moment away from his work shooting the Guardians sequel, Gunn took to Facebook this morning to pen a rebuttal to the idea that the best business plan is to just make another self-aware, raunchy comic superhero film. If anything, use this as proof that if you can expand beyond the usual formulas to make something new interesting audiences will respond.
I have to say that I agree with him.
Deadpool‘s $55 million budget is amazingly small compared to the $200 plus that has become the routine figure to spend on big tentpole films, comic book adaptations or otherwise. Many in the film industry has been decrying the lack of the smaller-to-medium size budgeted films that often made up so much of a studio’s release slate in the past. If anything Deadpool showed that with a modicum of investment and the right passionate people on the project, you don’t necessarily have to go big or go home. The final box office take for Deadpool could conceivably pay for three or four more films in the same budgetary range. Not all of them will be as big a hit as Deadpool will top out as, but even if they are smaller successes, Fox would still be far more ahead than they were after dumping a reported $120 million* into the production like last summer’s Fantastic Four.
* That $120 million is a figure I suspect may be a rather lowball one. It also doesn’t take into any prints and advertising costs.