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Weekend Estimates: Deadpool Smashes February Record with $135m Debut

February 14th, 2016


This weekend last year, Fifty Shades of Grey broke one of the longest-standing records in the business by posting a $85.2 million opening weekend, besting the record for biggest weekend in February that had been held by The Passion of the Christ since 2004. Fifty Shades and, in 2014, The LEGO Movie dispelled the myth that big movies couldn’t open in February, and this year Deadpool is single-handedly making President’s Day weekend look like a Summer holiday weekend with an opening projected by Fox at $135 million for the Friday–Sunday period and $150 million over four days.

The scale of Deadpool’s win is remarkable. It will break the February record by about $50 million. If Star Wars hadn’t just broken the December opening weekend record by $160 million, we would be calling that performance unprecedented. Together, those two results show that the right film can do huge business at pretty much any time of the year. Certainly the Winter months carry risks of bad weather denting box office, and audiences during the day on Friday may be a little thinner than in the Summer, but having previews on Thursday night become the norm has given moviegoers at least four evenings to go see a new release on “opening weekend,” and five on holiday weekends like this one. That’s enough to make a passing snow storm less of a risk to opening numbers, and make up for one slow-ish afternoon. Sony must be feeling pretty good about scheduling Bad Boys 3 for this weekend next year (not to mention the finale of The Maze Runner for Fox).

Returning to this weekend’s action, Deadpool’s fellow debutants are both posting respectable, but hardly earth-shattering, numbers. How to be Single will come in third for the weekend with $18.75 million, which is just fine for an R-rated romantic comedy coming out on Valentine’s Day weekend, but far behind the $56 million debut of Valentine’s Day, which is what Warner Bros. was secretly hoping for. Paramount was also shooting for more than the $15.65 million projected for Zoolander 2, a number that is virtually identical to the opening weekend for Zoolander. The fact that the first movie came out in 2001 when ticket prices were 33% lower than they are today makes for a disappointing start by the sequel, which will have to look for the VOD market to help it avoid a heavy loss.

Things are relatively quiet among limited releases this weekend as moviegoers catch up on watching Oscar nominees. In that category, quite a few films are doing well compared to last weekend. The Revenant will basically be flat with last weekend, and is comfortably the highest grossing Best Picture nominee still playing in theaters, with $159 million to date. Brooklyn is off 5% this weekend with $1.12 million, and has grossed $34 million to date. Spotlight is off 10% this time around and The Big Short down 20%.

The major new limited release, Where to Invade Next is earning about $930,000 this weekend for a total to date a shade over a million once one includes its Oscar preview screenings back in December. Its average of $3,000 per theater suggests it won’t expand much, although, given its shaky release history, things could have been much worse.

- Weekend estimates
- February weekend records
- Deadpool comparisons
- Zoolander 2 comparisons
- How to be Single comparisons

Bruce Nash,

Filed under: Weekend Box Office, Deadpool, Zoolander 2, How to be Single, The Revenant, The Big Short, Where to Invade Next