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Deadpool 2 hasn't even been in theaters for a full day yet, but it hasn't even taken that long for the Merc with a Mouth to set a box office record. Last night the film's Thursday night preview screenings were huge for the Deadpool sequel. The film brought in $18.6 million, which is a box office record for an R-rated film. It destroyed the previous record, $13.5 million, set by IT last year.
R-rated movies are always something of a gamble for film studios because the rating limits the audience that is able to see the movie. It's the reason that PG-13 is the rating of choice for nearly every major tentpole release. It's also the reason why getting the original Deadpool made in the first place was such an uphill battle. To do it right meant an R-rating, but to do that meant a superhero movie would be closed off from a large part of the audience interested in seeing it. However, the first Deadpool showed that there were still plenty of people willing to see an adult superhero movie, and now the sequel's early success means that number is only getting larger.
These numbers fall in line with the early indications that Deadpool 2 was going to surpass the box office success of the original film. Deadpool is the highest grossing R-rated movie in the world, and it's number two domestically, behind Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Deadpool was only about $17 million short of Passion's total when it finished its run, and Deadpool 2's Thursday total exceeds the take of the original Deadpool by an impressive $6 million -- Deadpool held the Thursday R-rated record itself prior to IT -- which means Deadpool 2 only needs to exceed the original by an additional $11 million to become the highest grossing R-rated movie ever in North America.
There's a pretty decent chance that's going to happen when you take into account the fact that many are agreeing that Deadpool 2 is a superior movie to the first. It has all the action and humor that you'd expect, but it's also combined with a solid story that is likely to engage the audience.
We'll have to wait and see if the record numbers continue for Deadpool 2 through the weekend. The original Deadpool currently has the highest grossing opening weekend for an R-rated film at $132 million. Deadpool 2 has a solid chance at breaking that record as well, not only because of the great head start it got on Thursday night, but because, as Deadline points out, the film is opening in 4,349 theaters, another record for an R-rated film.