LOS ANGELES—“Deadpool 2” became the rare R-rated blockbuster at the box office over the weekend, kicking off what Hollywood hopes is a robust summer movie season.
The sequel about a foul-mouthed superhero (Ryan Reynolds) collected a strong $125 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to studio estimates. It collected an additional $176 million in overseas markets.
“Deadpool 2” couldn’t match the original “Deadpool,” which broke records and shattered expectations when it took in $132 million in its opening weekend two years ago. But the movie’s relatively inexpensive budget and strong reaction from fans still give its studio, Twentieth Century Fox, a hit.
Based on a spinoff character in Marvel Comic’s X-Men series, the original “Deadpool” pulled in audiences despite an R rating that kept young moviegoers away and a release date typically reserved for studio leftovers.
“Deadpool” went on to gross $363 million domestically and $420 million overseas, making it one of the year’s biggest hits and a better performer in the U.S. than more conventional superhero epics released in 2016, like “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Doctor Strange.” It remains the second-highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time, behind “The Passion of the Christ.”
For the sequel, the studio upped the stakes, choosing a prime summer release date and increasing the budget from $58 million to $110 million, still about half what it costs DC Comics and Marvel Studios to make their massive superhero offerings.
“Deadpool 2” begins an unusually busy summer movie season, with Disney ’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story” coming next week and major releases like “Jurassic World” following soon behind. Industry analysts expect the summer box office to rise about 20% compared with last year’s disappointing showing.
One of “Deadpool’s” many satirical targets is the assortment of other comic-book adaptations that crowd multiplexes and that will soon start drawing moviegoers away in the weeks to come.
“We can counterprogram anything,” said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution at Twentieth Century Fox , which released the film. ( 21st Century Fox , which owns the studio, and News Corp , parent of The Wall Street Journal, share common ownership.)
Another superhero sequel, Walt Disney Co.’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” followed in second place. It added $28.7 million to its blockbuster haul of $595 million. “Infinity War” has grossed $1.8 billion world-wide so far.
The weekend’s other new wide releases failed to take off with audiences.
“Book Club,” starring Jane Fonda and Candice Bergen as book-club members who are reinvigorated after reading “Fifty Shades of Grey,” collected a soft $12.5 million. It was released by Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures and could see a stronger performance in the weeks ahead since it appeals to older audiences who often don’t rush to see a movie on opening weekend.
“Show Dogs,” starring Will Arnett as an FBI agent who teams up with a Rottweiler to go undercover at a suspicious dog show, flopped in sixth place with $6 million. It was distributed by Global Road Entertainment.