Avengers: Infinity War has broken all kinds of records at the box office, but it’s not the only superhero movie coming out this month. The release of Deadpool 2 trails the goliath Marvel Cinematic Universe action flick by three weeks. Early box office predictions suggest that Deadpool 2’s earnings will surpass those of Deadpool, but is it possible for the R-rated sequel to dethrone the juggernaut that is Infinity War? Let’s take a look at the facts and decide for ourselves.
The first thing to understand is what kind of competition Deadpool 2 is going up against. Avengers: Infinity War opened on April 27. In that time, it has smashed several major box office records, including best domestic opening weekend box office ($250 million) and the worldwide opening record ($630 million), among others. Those numbers are only going to go up as the film heads into its second weekend, largely free of any major releases that could draw attention away from it.
Deadpool 2 is no slouch regarding box office opening predictions. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film is tracking for a massive $150 million opening weekend, putting it ahead of the first film by a decent chunk but wildly behind Infinity War’s $257 million. By comparison, Deadpool brought in roughly $132 million over its opening weekend back in 2016, then went on to amass $783 million worldwide. Given that the sequel film is coming out three weeks after Infinity War, it should be a given that Deadpool 2 would at least present a threat to MCU’s crown jewel -- but not so fast.
While Deadpool 2 is certainly no slouch in the projections department, it’s worth noting that Disney is playing a particularly crafty game with its Infinity War international release dates, whether intentional or not. By staggering the release of Infinity War in Russia and China (the film released in Russia on May 3 and will release in China on May 11), Disney has set it up so that Infinity War gets a fresh injection of cash from these markets for the two weekends following its debut. Deadpool 2 will slide into theaters the weekend after, but, given the recent box office staying power of Marvel films like Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok, it’s unclear whether the Merc with a Mouth possesses the kind of cache to tackle Thanos’ reign.
Deadpool 2, on the other hand, has only staggered its release significantly in four countries: Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan and Mexico. None of these countries possess China’s box office swaying power or its longstanding love for MCU films. The result is that Infinity War could end up snowballing for weeks, much like Black Panther did, eating into box office numbers for quite some time. We are talking about the film some think could eventually topple Avatar's all-time international earnings record, after all.
There are some additional factors to consider regarding Deadpool 2’s chances at the box office throne. One such factor is that, while several movies changed their release dates after Infinity War moved its debut from May 4 to April 27, the same cannot be said for Deadpool 2. That means that Infinity War gets three weeks to dominate the box office, but Deadpool 2 only gets one. Solo: A Star Wars Story heads into theaters the week after Deadpool 2. While there are some suspicions about the quality of Solo right now, make no mistake: It is a Star Wars movie about one of the series’ most beloved characters. It will clean house (and very likely eat into Deadpool 2’s long term earnings).
The other factor is, perhaps, the most obvious one. Deadpool 2 is an R-rated film. While Deadpool and Logan jointly proved that R-rated superhero movies have a place in a landscape largely dominated by PG-13 offerings, its rating means that it will have to abstain from a decent chunk of change. By largely removing audiences under the age of 18 (face it, few parents are going to want to take their children to a film that includes a song called “Holy S---balls” in its score), that’s effectively surrendering potential box office earnings from the young demographic most likely to identify with Deadpool’s antics.
So, sadly, there is very little chance that Deadpool 2 will dethrone Infinity War. In fact, there’s a very good chance that Infinity War’s reign will continue after Deadpool 2, and may even eat into Solo’s earnings, too.
Directed by David Leitch, Deadpool 2 stars Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Leslie Uggams as Blind Al, Stefan Kapičić as the voice of Colossus, and Karan Soni as Dopinder, with newcomers Zazie Beetz as Domino, Josh Brolin as Cable and Julian Dennison as Russell. The film hits theaters on May 18.