Deadpool has already been discussed on HCAD, mostly in relation to its budget, but now that it has been released and is a mega-hit, we’re going to be discussing it again with what its success means for various aspects of Hollywood and the movie industry in general.
This has probably been covered in numerous other articles on numerous other websites over the past week, but this article is a noteworthy topic because it is directly related to so many of these big “trends” in blockbuster movies lately, either confirming or combating them, much to the chargin of many writers of these thinkpieces on other websites.
Except for us, of course. Because we’re not dicks.
The Superhero Movie Genre
The death of the superhero movie genre has been extremely exaggerated for years. Enough years that it’s funny to look back at certain older articles on the subject. After Avengers: Age of Ultron “disappointed” by making less than its predecessor, many people acted as if that was a signal that superhero movies were beginning to falter in popularity. Ant-Man ended up as one of the lower-end superhero movies in the post-Avengers era and Fant4stic absolutely bombed, so this theme continued for the rest of 2015.
Enter Deadpool’s massive $152 million opening 4-day weekend, and the superhero movie genre is now revitalized. People still want to see people in tight spandex fight each other, and people seem to really like the humorous strand of the genre compared to the “serious” strand (which mostly just consists of DC movies at this point).
This is the best possible news to come early this year, because now the likes of Batman v Superman, Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse Suicide Squad, Doctor Strange, and allegedly Gambit can breathe easy knowing that their onslaught is not going to bring on massive fatigue, so long as their movies are good and audiences flock to them.
Deadpool was no revolutionary movie in terms of all these new shared universes that have been coming out recently. However, it has proved one major aspect of the shared universes that had before now been an untested theory: the franchise spinoff film.
There have been many spinoff movies over the years, but in the wake of all these gigantic numbers of Cinematic Universes being formed over the past five or so years, there has been a focus on the “spinoff movies” within those universes. Big franchises like Transformers, Harry Potter, and Star Wars all have spinoffs announced or in development, but unlike in franchises past, they are actually meant to tie into the “main series” movies as well rather than attempting to make something of their own (see: the Supergirl and Elektra movies). Marvel’s cinematic universe has had “smaller” films like Ant-Man, but each of the series within are franchises of their own.
With Deadpool, it’s now clear that people will actually go to support a smaller film within a bigger franchise. A date for the Bumblebee spinoff of Transformers was not very coincidentally announced this week, so it looks like Hollywood executives were watching Deadpool very closely to see if spinoff movies would work as well as they hoped.
Deadpool’s success doesn’t actually mean anything for these other spinoffs considering its unique situation as a barely-connected movie that essentially parodied its own universe. But it does mean that Hollywood is going to see Deadpool’s win as a win for shared universes in general and continue to greenlight more movies.
This is the subject of our previous Deadpool article. Deadpool’s budget, which was $58 million, is considered extremely paltry in the age of mega-blockbusters. Even “smaller” movies like Ant-Man still had budgets that topped $100 million, and most tentpole movies top $150 million nowadays. But Deadpool, even with extensive CGI and a pretty big cast, was only a third of what most movies go for.
This is probably the most beneficial impact that Deadpool has, because it means that not all movies are going to go for broke and get these massive budgets out of nowhere. As we saw last year from Seventh Son, Pan, and Fant4stic, a gigantic budget can sometimes make disappointments look even worse. And as we saw from Last Witch Hunter, Terminator Gynysys and Jupiter Ascending, keeping budgets low would have made a world of difference for many movies that made some money but ended up with a loss overall. Hopefully Hollywood takes the lesson of mid-budget blockbusters seriously in the future.
Hyperviolent, Smart Blockbusters
Deadpool confirmed what we knew all along: people like gory, hilarious movies.
In the past few years we’ve gotten critically-acclaimed movies like Kick-Ass, John Wick, Kingsmen: The Secret Service, Mad Max: Fury Road, and every Tarantino movie, which have all been extremely violent and generally funny as well due in no small part to the fact that they’re smarter and more self-aware than the average movie. While PG-13 movies can be self-aware as well, these movies go above and beyond in over-the-top violence and stunts that allow for more creative freedom.
Because of the massive and obvious success of Deadpool, though, it’s clear that these movies weren’t all niche successes or exceptions to the rule that rated-R movies are less lucrative than PG-13 ones; rated-R movies can actually succeed and be extremely enjoyable to audiences as well.
Fox has already confirmed that Wolverine 3 will be R and that the long-gestating X-Force will be R, and those will probably be the first of many announcements where big blockbuster movies are suddenly rated R. This may even end up kickstarting a new renaissance of adult-skewing blockbusters, a type of movie that (unfortunately) fizzled out in the early 2000s.
As we’ve seen from the past few years, movies can now open in more times in the year than May, June, July, August, November, and December. April and October have been added to the “lucrative movie months” calendar in recent years, but January, February, March, and September have still lagged behind other months until just the past year or so. January had its first mega-hit with American Sniper, and now February has had its first with Deadpool (no offense to respectable hits Lego Movie and Fifty Shades of Gray; Passion of the Christ also doesn’t count due to its subject material being obvious hit material no matter when it released).
It looks like Martin Luther King Jr Day weekend and President’s Day weekend have now become “big weekends” for movie releases, and that’s more exciting than anything because it means half of all blockbusters aren’t going to be bunched up in a three-month window. Hopefully we will finally see September become a good month for movies, too…
(Also hopefully Oscar movies realize that they don’t all have to open in October, November, and December and we finally get some Awards Buzz movies in the first six or seven months of the year…)
China’s Box Office Importance
Right now, China has just crowned its newest box office champion, The Mermaid, just one year after the previous record-holders Monster Hunt and Furious 7 stormed theaters. What this means is that China’s impressive box office growth in the past six years since Avatar released is extremely important to blockbusters worldwide, and that Hollywood is going to be increasingly reliant on success there, not just in the United States and Canada. China has also helped many recent “failed” blockbusters survive through higher-than-expected grosses, including Pacific Rim, Escape Plan, and Terminator Gynysys.
However, Deadpool has shown that China isn’t the end-all for movies; Deadpool was banned from premiering in China and STILL has made nearly $500 million in less than a month. In this same time period, X-Men: Days of Future Past made about the same amount, but that was with China included.
What Hollywood may realize (and should realize) from this is that worldwide box office does matter, and it matters a lot, but they don’t need to specifically cater to China or America to get a hit; they just need to make a movie that has a very broad appeal.
Deadpool is a really good movie and you should go see it.