‘Deadpool,’ Marvel’s profane superhero, has record box office opening

NEW YORK — He may be an unlikely hero, but Deadpool saved the day at the box office this weekend.

“Deadpool” had the biggest opening ever for an R-rated film this weekend, hauling in an estimated $135 million at the domestic box office.

The 20th Century Fox film starring Ryan Reynolds as the sarcastic Marvel superhero took the R-rated crown from “The Matrix Reloaded,” which opened to $91.7 million in May 2003.

The film, which had a budget of $58 million, also became the biggest February opening ever by a large margin overtaking last year’s “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which made $85.1 million.

“Deadpool” surprised Hollywood, more than doubling its initial forecasts of a $60 million box office opening and brought in a summer-like debut in the dead of winter — and on a very cold weekend in the Northeast.

Even though the character is not a well-known superhero, the profanely witty, self-healing soldier of fortune has a cult fan base that pushed for the film after years of delays almost kept it from being made.

 The record weekend helped Fox bounce back from August’s “Fantastic Four,” one of the biggest bombs of last year as well as wiped away Reynolds panned performance in 2011’s disappointing “Green Lantern.”

“Reynolds and the fans lobbied hard to make this movie, then he and Fox’s marketing team waged a glorious assault of clever, raunchy, and viral promos over a six-month period that spawned mass conversation on a level only topped by ‘Star Wars,” said Shawn Robbins, senior analyst at BoxOffice.com. “That’s how you sell a movie like this to today’s moviegoers, and the results validate all of it.”

Unlike Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers, Deadpool is owned by Fox instead of Disney’s Marvel Studios. That makes “Deadpool” Fox’s biggest box office opening for one of its Marvel properties.

And the “Merc with the Mouth” isn’t going anywhere with a sequel to the film already in development.

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