Everything is coming up Deadpool. And that is as it should be. Any film that quadruples its budget in worldwide grosses in its opening weekend deserves to be talked about. And any film that makes this big of a splash will have an effect on the way Hollywood does business. But, as James Gunn pointed out, Hollywood will take the wrong message from the film’s success. What does Deadpool really tell us about the state of the film business today and where it will go in the future? We have some educated guesses.
1. The “Dead Period” in which films are released is getting smaller:
The conventional wisdom on when films were released went like this. Blockbusters would be released over the summer and during the Christmas break. They were joined by Oscar hopefuls through out December. The films the studios gave up hope on and wanted to bury? Those would be released in January, February and even March.
Deadpool proves this to no longer be the case. The blockbuster made $132 million domestically over the weekend. That breaks the record for February that was set last year by Fifty Shades of Grey. As a matter of fact, it spanked (pun intended) that films opening weekend by $50 million dollars. And Deadpool‘s opening weekend demolished the opening weekends for Man of Steel, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past, all comic book films released between May-August period that is supposed to get the best results at the box office.
January and February is still the time of year where the studios’ release their dregs, this year’s Dirty Grandpa, Fifty Shades of Black, and Norm of the North are prime examples of that. But the winter is no longer the frozen wasteland it once was. Expect more studios to release big ticket films in this month.
2. Fox is a big winner:
After the abject failure of Fantastic Four, Fox was looking for some good news from its other comic book property, the X-Men franchise, and, oh boy, did they get it. The success of Deadpool means that Christmas has just come to Fox. The X-Men comics have a wide array of characters that could get the big screen treatment. X-Force, New Mutants, and Gambit are already in various stages of development, and they scratch just the surface of what could come. Cable appears to be journeying the big screen next. After that? The possibilities are endless. Could characters like Storm or Mystique get solo films? How about up-to-now unseen comic book X-Men such as Dazzler, Longshot or Northstar? Off-shoot teams such as X-Statix, Alpha Flight and the Starjammers?
Not all of these concepts have the fan base that Deadpool has, but the latter’s success gives Fox the ability to explore all these concepts and more.
3. Fox is a big loser:
We came so close to not even having this conversation. Because while there were a lot of high fives and fist bumps in the offices of 20th Century Fox on Monday, the powers that be did very little to deserve them. Fox’s bungling of this property started back in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where they bungled up the character so much that they took the mouth off of the Merc With a Mouth, along with any hint of personality or anything that made the character fun. Then, the script for this film stalled in development hell from 2010, only being pulled out of when directors such as James Cameron and David Fincher enthusiastically spoke up for the project and someone leaked test footage that got fandom clamoring to see a full film.
Even then, Fox had little faith in the project. $58 million is a minuscule amount for a comic book movie, and that was the budget was only agreed upon after the studio asked for $7 million worth of scenes be cut from the script days before filming began. Its February release wasn’t Fox’s savvy analyzing of trends and realizing February was ready to support a blockbuster. The February release was to bury the film so it could die a quick death where no one would notice. Fox is being rewarded mightily for a movie they had zero faith in and almost didn’t allow to see the light of day. The lunkhead studio that brought you Fantastic Four just got lucky.
If Fox takes credit for the films success, perhaps thinking the budget restraints they put on the film made it a better one, expect less success down the line. Because that bone-headed logic will spell doom for Fox’s future efforts.
4. Tim Miller will be a very popular man in the near future:
Deadpool was Tim Miller’s first full-length movie. It won’t be his last. After seeing the film, I am hard pressed to think of any other director who could have done better directing the film. He captured the anarchic spirit of the character to a T, made the breaking of the fourth wall seamless, and made sure the $58 million dollar film looked like a $200 million dollar film. As is this case when a new and relatively unknown director breaks on the scene with a flashy success, expect Miller to become attached as director for every new blockbuster franchise that has an opening at director in the near future.
5. Having such a big return on such a small investment will extend the life of the comic book film:
Before Deadpool, it seemed that a comic book film couldn’t be made for under $200 million. And with so much at risk, all you need is a string of disappointing returns to have studios not want to spend that much money anymore, and the long prophesied death of the comic book film would be upon us. However, $58 million is a much safer risk. By keeping budgets low, you can get more esoteric, lesser known and “out there'” projects made and you can have fans of the comic bring it to the screen the way it should be adapted. Of course, not every comic book can be done so cheaply, but if there is a creator like Tim Miller who can make the best use of such a small budget then the comic book movie genre could go on forever.
6. Gambit could be the next big thing:
Gambit has a lot in common with Deadpool. Both characters are insanely popular with comic book fans. Both characters had their introduction into film screwed up in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Both spin-off films featuring the characters resided in development hell before fate intervened. Both have A-list actors who genuinely love the characters taking a hands-on approach with bringing the hero to life on the big screen, both behind and in front of the cameras.
Gambit‘s budget is three times that of Deadpool‘s, however, but it does have the more established (and really, really good) director in Doug Liman and is working from a script treatment from the character’s co-creator Chris Claremont. Regardless, Deadpool‘s success can only mean good things for Gambit, both inside the halls of Fox and with the eagerly awaiting fans of the character.
7. The R-rating shows the true demographic of the comic book film:
Critics of the comic book film like to bemoan the fact that it’s kid-centric, toyetic nature strangles out the possibility of more mature, thoughtful adult fare. Their hope is that when kids either grow up or have their taste change, the remaining adult fans will not be enough to keep the genre afloat. Well, Deadpool is aggressively aimed at adults. It’s R is a hard R, with a film full of decapitations, F-bombs, and graphic sexual situations. It’s marketing made it clear that the film wasn’t made for the kids. Some people still brought their kids because, well, some people are morons. But the record breaking grosses were overwhelmingly due to an adult audience coming out in droves to see the film. This means that those pundits who wish the audience would age out of the genre are going to be disappointed. The amount of grown-ups that like comic book films guarantees its continued health and longevity.
8. Any hopes for a partnership between Fox and Marvel studios should be just about dead:
The failure of Fantastic Four gave comic book fans hope that Fox would enter into a similar agreement that Sony with Marvel so all the Marvel characters would be under the same universe. After all, if The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which technically was a hit, sent Sony scurrying into a partnership with Marvel, the the outright bomb that was Fantastic Four should send Fox over even faster.
The problem is, Marvel would probably want access to the X-Men franchise as well, and that franchise was in good shape at Fox. While they didn’t gross as much as the Marvel films, the X-films often turned a good enough profit that Fox never felt the need to share its toys with Marvel to begin with. Now, with Deadpool being a hit, the idea of sharing has probably gone completely out the window, perhaps forever. So, don’t expect Hugh Jackman to unsheathe the claws to fight Thanos any time soon.