Deadpool dominated the weekend box office, tallying $152,193,853. Deadpool dethroned the reigning champ, Kung Fu Panda 3, which dropped to second place with $25,913,745 (up 22% from last week’s total). In their theatrical debuts, How to Be Single ($19,904,293) and Zoolander 2 ($15,881,410) came in third and fourth place respectively. Now in its ninth week in theaters, Star Wars: The Force Awakens refuses to drop out of the top five, holding on to fifth place with $7,640,691.
Wow….just wow…. Deadpool flat-out annihilated its box office competition. The Merc with the Mouth’s solo film debut almost tripled its $58 million budget during its opening weekend. To put that into perspective, industry insiders projected Deadpool would only earn $55-60 million during that same period. Factor in the movie’s R-rating, and Deadpool’s numbers become even more mind-boggling. Damn!
Here are a few of the records that Deadpool broke:
- Largest Opening Day in February: $47.5 million
- Previous Record: $30.2 million – Fifty Shades of Grey
- Largest February Opening Weekend: $132.75 million
- Previous Record: $85.1 million – Fifty Shades of Grey
- Largest R-Rated Opening Weekend: $132.75 million
- Previous Record: $91.7 million – The Matrix Reloaded
Here’s a look at some films opening on February 19, 2016.
Race (PG-13) 134 mins. — Race is a biographical drama about the life of legendary track and field star, Jesse Owens. Owens, an African American, competed at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games amidst mounting political and racial turmoil. Owens delivered multiple world-class performances, each one flying in the face of Hitler’s Aryan supremacy myths. Owen’s life story is incredible and demands a cinematic retelling; however, I’m wavering on whether Race is the correct platform.
Race’s trailer is cause for concern; it feels flat, and presents a film that comes off like a made for television movie. It also bothers me that the picture’s launch date received a bump from April to February — never a good sign. Race is a film I really want to enjoy, so I hope my concerns are minor nitpicks, like a protective parent picking a piece of lint off their child’s graduation gown before they take the stage.
Risen (PG-13) 107 mins. — Leading up to its release, Risen did not receive a strong media blitz. Could it be that Sony has no faith in this film and dumped it in the middle of February? Perhaps Sony is anticipating that Risen will succeed based on strong word of mouth — Affirm Films, Sony’s faith-based distribution company, is handling the release. Positive buzz amongst the evangelical community contributed to The Passion of the Christ making a killing at the box office even though it’s a poorly constructed film that most critics panned (49% on Rotten Tomatoes).
In Risen, Joseph Fiennes plays Clavius, a Roman centurion charged with investigating claims of the risen Jewish messiah. The movie plays out like a procedural drama, with Fienne’s non-believing centurion swept up in the birth of Christianity. The always amazing Cliff Curtis plays Jesus. All I can say to Risen’s casting director is bravo. In an era when films cast Caucasians to play Egyptians, casting a dark-skinned actor to play Jesus is groundbreaking.
The Witch (R) 92 mins. — Now here is a movie to get excited about. Ever since it wowed audiences at Sundance just over a year ago, The Witch’s buzz has only intensified. Horror aficionados have compared it to Kubrick’s The Shining, and rightly so. After screening this film at TIFF, I have to agree that the hype is justified. While I won’t elevate this film to The Shining-level status, it is a masterful approach to suspense and psychological horror. The Witch is the type of film that makes your pulse quicken and the hairs stand on the back of your neck, and then locks you into a constant state of dread.
Make no mistake about it, this picture isn’t for everybody. The Witch is a slow burner of a film, and it takes its sweet time ratcheting up the terror. Those who demand instant gratification from their scary movies need look elsewhere because they will despise this picture. The Witch doesn’t use gore and in your face scares to get under the audience’s skin. However, horror lovers that appreciate tension and atmosphere may just fall in love with this film.
The Bottom Line — This doesn’t look like a strong weekend for the box office. Risen hasn’t received a strong studio push; Race’s trailer doesn’t adequately convey the scope of the movie’s true-life events, and as much as people love The Witch, it’s still just an indie darling. None of this week’s releases are projecting to break any box office records, so if one of these films fit into your wheelhouse, make sure to go out and support it. I’m a fan of smart, emotionally gripping horror, and I’ll be supporting The Witch with my wallet. If you are a fan of bio-pics or biblical tales, I encourage you to do the same.