Friday Update: Multiple sources report that Deadpool gunned down an excellent $12.7 million from Thursday night's opening shows, taking down the all-time R-rated record of $10.4 million from The Hangover Part II and the overall February record of $8.6 million by last year's Fifty Shades of Grey.
Following an extensively viral ad campaign that dominated social media since last summer, last night's debut impressively bested numerous superhero adaptations as well -- namely Guardians of the Galaxy ($11.2 million), fellow in-universe title X-Men: Days of Future Past ($8.1 million), and Ant-Man ($6.4 million). It's no wonder Fox greenlit a sequel earlier this week given the very strong word of mouth coming out of last night's first shows.
Among last night's earnings were $2.3 million from IMAX alone, the best ever posted by an IMAX title in February, and sixth highest of all-time (more than Furious 7).
Weekend projections are more challenging than usual given the landing of Valentine's Day on Sunday and President's Day on Monday, but given the strong reception so far we're inclined to believe Thursday front-loading won't be abnormally severe. The top five R-rated weekends of all-time (Friday through Sunday) belong to films that earned over $83.8 million -- with the top two being The Matrix Reloaded's $91.8 million and American Sniper's $89.3 million. Those are also close to the proximity of Guardians' $94.3 million opening weekend and Days of Future Past's $90.8 million three-day start. Even though Deadpool's Sunday may be deflated by date night crowds, it may have enough lead-in already to get close to those figures.
For the four-day, last year's Fifty Shades of Grey set a new President's Day frame record with $93.0 million. Deadpool has a great shot at topping that, and could be looking upward of $100 million+ by the end of the extended weekend if everything goes its way. Either way, coupled with a fantastic overseas start as well, this is a massive success already for Fox, Ryan Reynolds, and co.
Also debuting last night was Zoolander 2, which posted a more modest $750,000 from early shows. By comparison, Anchorman: The Legend Continues did $2.3 million from its early show opening, although that film opened one week before Christmas when many were out of school and work for the holidays.
Lastly, How to Be Single posted $700,000 last night, a solid total that indicates some potential to upset Zoolander 2 for second place among this weekend's openers. That figure topped About Last Night's $530,000 Thursday night start one day before Valentine's in 2014.
We'll have further analysis and our weekend estimates on Saturday morning once the studios release official Friday estimates.